Graphic showing that Gannett CEO Mike Reed made more than 7.7 million in 2021 compared with $48,000 made by the median employee.

Gannett can’t be trusted to invest in journalists as it begs for special powers

Today Gannett announced that it is soon planning to cut jobs after CEO Mike Reed said the company was “facing strong headwinds” after reporting their second quarter financials. 

“Gannett has clearly shown it cannot be trusted to invest in journalists or its newsrooms and is prioritizing shareholders and executives over journalism,” said NewsGuild President Jon Schleuss. 

“As a journalist representing thousands of other journalists in North America, we scrutinize and hold companies accountable for their behavior,” he said. “Gannett’s SEC filings and actions against America’s journalists show it is incapable of being trusted.”

Gannett is paying down debt, spending lavishly on anti-journalist attorneys, using $100 million for stock buybacks and enriching executives while its own journalists struggle to live in the communities they cover. Too many Gannett journalists rely on food banks to survive. 

All the while, Gannett is currently begging Congress to pass the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, which would give news companies collective bargaining rights to negotiate with Google and Facebook and receive a windfall. 

“Why would any sane person think Gannett will invest any of that money into its journalists and newsrooms?” Schleuss asked. 

Further, The NewsGuild-CWA will not stand for layoffs by Gannett. America’s newsrooms are already too understaffed to cover the stories we need to have a functioning democracy, especially during an important election year. Gannett — or any company — cannot do layoffs at newly unionized newsrooms without proving economic exigency, which can’t exist when executives and shareholders are pocketing millions. Newsrooms with already existing collective bargaining agreements have language handling layoffs, however, we should organize against all layoffs for the sake of our country. 

Here’s a recent list of Gannett’s behavior in targeting and attacking journalists:

  • Gannett is refusing to give a deserving worker a raise at Asbury Park Press in New Jersey and sent lawyers to the table to belittle the journalists. 
  • The Kent, Ohio Record-Courier is less than half as large as it was when Gannett took over. The company hired three lawyers to fight five workers in unionizing. They dragged out the process by months. The workers voted 5-0 to unionize.
  • Gannett’s CEO makes 160 times what the median employee makes, netting $7.7 million/year. 
  • Gannett has been dragging out negotiations everywhere. Arizona Republic workers walked off the job for an hour in July. 
  • Gannett has refused to put pay raises on the table in Jacksonville, FL on top of no raises for four years. And they’ve been dragging bargaining out there for more than four years. 

The NewsGuild-CWA is the largest union of journalists in North America and represents about 1,500 workers at about 50 different Gannett properties. The NewsGuild represents journalists, activists and other workers across more than 440 workplaces and has a membership north of 27,000. It is one of the fastest growing unions in North America.