Monday, April 21, 2008

Earnings are up at Offlede (again), down at Gannett (again)

I took my camera on a jog through the neighborhood, and it didn't take me long to shoot enough for sale signs for a Photoshop collage. The bottom sign has been out in a yard so long that it's rusted and faded to the point of near illegibility. If real estate brokers can't make money on real estate, it's no wonder that newspaper also can't.

As ad revenue at The Offlede continues to soar (another Lincoln collected this week, up from 22 cents to 23 cents total), it continues to fall at Gannett, the parent company of FLORIDA TODAY.

Gannett earnings dropped 9 percent in the first three months of the year. You could say the earnings were "nearly decimated." (Click that link, please. You might learn something.) The weak economy likely attributed to fewer ads being sold. According to The Associated Press:
Gannett chairman and chief executive Craig Dubow (who made $7.5 million last year) said the difficulties are particularly acute at Gannett's 11 newspapers in Arizona, California, Florida and Nevada, where the real estate downturn has been sharper. Full story.
Heck, it's so bad here in Florida that my roommate, who owns the house I live in, left his place off the market after his Realtor said she didn't want it anymore. It isn't worth the hassle of listing it because it's not going to sell anytime soon.

The economic doldrum really hit home a few months ago when FLORIDA TODAY "awarded" buyouts to six newsroom employees. The announcement by our executive editor wasn't a shock to me. At the moment the staff meeting was announced via e-mail, I knew it would be about layoffs.

Real estate in Florida is continuing to founder. This state lives for homes. It's a retirement community, after all. And the declining revenues for newspapers exacerbate the economic climate for journalism.

This is the first time I've been at a publication as it laid off people.

Not long after I left the Bangor Daily News in Maine, 11 employees and the internship program were dropped.

The Pew Research Center, where I worked as a reporter, has been cost-cutting, though not necessarily laying off people.

My intrepid and beloved former co-workers at Newsday told me that the internship program had been cut in addition to the 40 buyouts that were distributed throughout the more-than-decimated newsroom.

But I can't do much more right now than just complain and continue to do my job. Copy editors are good at both of those things. Especially the former.

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