2010 already is beginning to look a lot like 2009 at The Cincinnati Enquirer.
In a memo issued Dec. 1, an executive with The Gannett Co., The Enquirer’s Virginia-based owner, wrote that newspaper employees must take another five-day, unpaid furlough within the first quarter of the year. Bob Dickey, Gannett’s U.S. community publishing president, blamed the continuing weak economy.
“We have seen some promising trends in advertising with ad declines slowing throughout the year and as we begin the holiday shopping season, we are also seeing some indication that retailers may be spending more on advertising,” Dickey wrote.
“While these trends are encouraging, the overall economy is still fragile with a number of business uncertainties,” he added. “Therefore, as we head into 2010, we think it is prudent to take a conservative approach toward managing our business. Toward that end, we have decided to implement furloughs across (the division) during the first quarter.”
Earlier this year, Gannett required The Enquirer and most of its newspapers to implement two separate, five-day unpaid furloughs.
Also, The Enquirer laid off 101 employees in July including columnist Peter Bronson and the staff of CiN Weekly. Last December, the newspaper had another round of layoffs; additionally, it offered several employees a voluntary severance package last fall to reduce its payroll.
The U.S. newspaper industry is struggling as many readers migrate to free content on the Internet, sparking a related loss in advertising dollars spent on newspapers.
Dickey’s recent memo continued, “We are instituting the furloughs during the first quarter because it is traditionally the lightest time of the year for us. Non-union USCP employees, including me, will be furloughed for five business days during the quarter. We will be communicating separately with union representatives and asking for their support of the furloughs. However, those union-represented employees who recently negotiated pay reductions in their contracts will not be furloughed.”
In the latest report from the Audit Bureau of Circulation, The Enquirer’s Mon.-Sat. average paid circulation dropped by 13.5 percent as of Sept. 30, compared to the same period last year.
The newspaper’s average paid circulation for its Sunday edition dropped by 5.5 percent, according to the audit.