Members of the Florida Times-Union Guild talked with members of the community in Jacksonville in March 2023.
Members of the Florida Times-Union Guild talked with members of the community in Jacksonville in March 2023. (Florida Times-Union Guild)

Gannett journalists to strike during annual shareholders meeting

Reporters call on Gannett shareholders to vote no-confidence in CEO Mike Reed, citing Reed’s gross mismanagement 

Two dozen newsrooms and hundreds of journalists expected to take part 

NATIONAL — Gannett journalists today announced that they would be holding a wave of nationwide strikes starting on June 5, the day of Gannett’s annual shareholder meeting. Hundreds of union journalists in two dozen newsrooms from California to New York are expected to take part to demand that Gannett get serious about reinvesting in local news, in the largest collective action that Gannett employees have taken to date. 

Journalists will take one-day walkouts on the day of the meeting, with some newsrooms walking off the job for two days or more. The Gannett publications participating will come from more than half a dozen states, including California, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Florida, New Jersey and New York.

The NewsGuild-CWA represents more than 50 Gannett bargaining units, covering more than 1,000 employees.

Striking workers are calling on shareholders to withhold their vote on Gannett Co., Inc. Board Chairman and CEO Mike Reed at the June 5 meeting. Under Reed’s stewardship of the company following the merger of GateHouse Media and Gannett Media in November 2019, newsrooms have been hollowed out, local news coverage has dwindled, and Gannett share prices have fallen nearly 70% – far more than peers in the industry like the New York Times and Lee Enterprises. 

Two weeks ago, the NewsGuild-CWA sent a letter to Gannett shareholders urging a vote of no-confidence against Reed, pointing to grossly mismanaged finances and misplaced priorities, specifically the foregoing of investments in newsrooms in order to service its self-incurred debt burden. The letter warned that Reed’s shortsighted leadership was tainting the company’s reputation, turning off subscribers, forcing out talented staff and creating legal risks by hampering proper vetting of stories and violating federal labor law. 

Gannett journalists also held a webinar in May with shareholders, explaining how Reed’s mismanagement had demoralized newsrooms and made it impossible for reporters to have the resources to produce quality journalism. 

Gannett Chairman and CEO Mike Reed has increasingly come under fire for decimating local news coverage around the country and shrinking pay and benefits for journalists, forcing many to seek employment elsewhere. The nation’s largest newspaper chain, Gannett owns more than 200 daily newspapers across the country, down from the 261 it owned at the time of its merger with GateHouse in 2019. In a sample of ten Gannett publications (eight of which will be involved in next week’s work stoppage) the NewsGuild found that local news stories had declined by 59 – 95% over the past decade. During Reed’s tenure, the company’s finances have been grossly mismanaged in the service of massive self-incurred debt and Gannett has cut nearly 20% of its journalism jobs in the last year, instituted unpaid furloughs and a hiring slowdown and suspended company contributions to employee 401(k) plans.

Gannett has also been stalling on bargaining at various tables across the unionized newsrooms, and not bargaining in good faith around demands for living wages and the resources journalists need to cover their communities. 

“Under Mike Reed’s watch, Gannett has become radioactive to investors. Reed doesn’t care one bit about a long-term strategy to invest in the company by investing in journalists. They need support and resources to make sure our communities have the local news needed to keep our democracy thriving. Instead, Reed’s singular focus has been on stuffing his own pockets. Reed has overstayed his welcome at Gannett and needs to go,” said Jon Schleuss, President, NewsGuild-CWA.

“Time and again, Mike Reed has shown a callous disregard for both local news and the journalists who power the success of Gannett. For years, Mike Reed has cut newsrooms to the bone and starved local communities of quality journalism. When corporate leaders fail, shareholders have a responsibility to hold them accountable. To preserve the long-term value of Gannett, Mike Reed needs to be shown the door,” said Susan DeCarava, President of The NewsGuild of New York.

“Gannett badly needs new leadership, starting from the top. For years, we’ve been handed poverty wages and continually stripped of the resources we need to do our job. My colleagues and I are each doing the work of several reporters. I pour my heart and soul into the work that I do, but love of the work doesn’t pay the bills. We need leadership that will respect our work and provide us with the wages, benefits, and staffing we need to do our jobs well for the long term. We need shareholders to vote no on Mike Reed,” said Cheryl Makin, Reporter for the Home News Tribune and Vice Chair of the APP-MCJ Guild.

“Mike Reed has been a disaster for our newsroom. While Reed and his executive friends make millions, we’re forced to accept wages that are too low to pay the bills. We’re paid so little that many of my Gannett colleagues need public assistance or private charity just to get by. This is no way to run a news company,” said Kaitlyn Kanzler, Reporter for the Record and Unit Chair of the Record Guild.

For more information on Mike Reed’s failed leadership, you can find a fact sheet here