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Friday, May 24, 2019

GateHouse layoffs affects Lakeland Ledger, maybe 200 jobs nationwide

Posted By on Fri, May 24, 2019 at 2:08 PM

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Several Florida newspapers — including the Lakeland Ledger — are seeing staff shake-ups as part of nationwide changes at publications owned by GateHouse Media.

Thursday’s news that five were laid off at the Ledger comes three months after the Ledger let go its entertainment reporter, Paul Catala. According to Lkld Now, positions cut in Lakeland include two assistant managing editors (Allison Guinn, Andy Kuppers), a multimedia editor (Sherri Valvo), a calendars and listing writer (Erik Henriksen) and a photographer (Scott Wheeler).

The cuts leave the Ledger photo staff with one employee, and the executive editor to oversee the newsroom, according to Poynter. Just 16 now work in the newsroom at Ledger, a paper that peaked with almost 100 employees 17 years ago.

Ledger reporter Gary White described yesterday as “another brutal, dismal, demoralizing day” for his newsroom and other GateHouse newspapers.

Other Florida papers affected in the GateHouse layoffs include the Daytona Beach News-Journal (where six staffers were let go), Leesburg’s Daily Commercial (which now has just six people to put out a seven-day-a-week paper), the St. Augustine Record, Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner.

Layoffs at two other Florida GateHouse publications — the Sarasota Herald-Tribune which unionized that in 2016, and Jacksonville’s Florida Times-Union, which voted to unionize in 2018 — were not mentioned, but the Time-Union does expect to shed some jobs this summer.

According to its website, GateHouse operates in 555 markets across 37 states. It owns nine daily newspapers in Florida, plus three free-weeklies, eight paid weeklies and Daytona Beach’s Pennysavers shopper.

In comments to Poynter, Mike Reed, the CEO of GateHouse parent company New Media Investment Group, described the nationwide layoffs as a “small restructuring.”

Reed told Business Insider that his company is “trying to reallocate expenses and resources from non-sales and non-content producing places and put those resources and expenses into producing more content and more sales, which would put us in a better position for long term success.”

Reed said that of the 200 or so affected, a majority “are moving from non-reporting to reporting jobs.” Or, as Poynter puts it, editors and photographers could be asked to switch assignments.

Reed, for his part, downplayed the cuts in comments to Business Insider, and called the layoffs “immaterial” while calling the notion that 200 were affected a “lie.”

"We have 11,000 employees,” Reed told the website, “a lot to me is 2,000.”

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