This week was deadline week for the Asheville Citizen-Times employees who have been offered a buyout offer from corporate parent Gannett. Will anyone at the newspaper bite on the offer? And if not, will Gannett achieve its cost-cutting goals through yet another round of layoffs?
Gannett CEO Bob Dickey sent out the offer back in August. Employees who were 55 or older with at least 15 years of service as of Oct. 12, 2015, were eligible. The company was offering 1.5 weeks of pay per year of service. Those with 25 years of service or more were offered two weeks of pay per year of service. Buyout deals were to be finalized on Oct. 12.
About eight Citizen-Times employees received the offer, according to my sources. Only one was said to be seriously considering the offer – sports Editor Bob Berghaus, a Gannett veteran who came to Asheville from another Gannett newspaper 12 years ago.
On Oct. 2, Gannett’s “chief people officer” sent out a follow-up note to the early retirement offer, a note that many employees took as a veiled threat, as in: if you don’t take the buyouts, you’ll face layoffs. From the note via Romenesko:
In addition to being a benefit for those who want to retire, our early retirement program will help us reduce costs in the long term and provide savings. If we don’t achieve our goals, we will need to re-evaluate where we stand and we can’t rule out implementing other actions in the future.
Layoffs have become somewhat of a late summer/fall tradition at the Citizen-Times. Last year, the Citizen-Times and its leadership – Editor Josh Awtry and Publisher David Neill – laid off two employees and forced several others out after forcing newsroom employees to reapply for their jobs. The year before, the newspaper laid off eight employees (including yours truly.) In 2011, some 12 newsroom employees (18 overall) lost their jobs at the Citizen-Times.
A couple of weeks ago, Neill announced he was resigning after a two-year stint as publisher. Was Neill getting out before having to deal with another round of lay-offs? His last day is Friday.
Also to note: a few weeks ago, Citizen-Times copy editor/reporter Sabian Warren announced his retirement.
We’ll keep an eye on the ever-shrinking Citizen-Times. Send any tips my way.
Do you need to write about these layoffs each time they happen? Swallow your bitterness and move on. You will be happier than calling out people who likely had nothing to do with your termination.