News Clip: Daily Record, 2 Other Gannett Papers Slashing Newsroom Staffs by Half

Employees told about coming cuts on Monday

By Louis C. Hochman

Originally published on Morristown Patch · January 10, 2011

The Daily Record, Courier News and Home News Tribune will cut their collective newsroom staff approximately in half, employees of the local newspapers were told Monday.

The Daily Record

Several employees of the Gannett-owned publications reached Monday night confirmed they were told in staff meetings earlier that day about the cuts, part of a major restructuring. The employees declined to speak on the record, as they remain on the Gannett staff for now.

Collectively, the publications currently employ about 100 newsroom staffers.

The Daily Record, based in Parsippany, primarily serves Morris County; the Courier News primarily serves Somerset County; and the Home News Tribune primarily serves Middlesex County. The Courier News and Home News Tribune have consolidated several aspects of their operation in recent years, and now share a website, facilities and several key staff members.

Employees are being asked to reapply for jobs under the new structure. Managerial candidates will be interviewed first; applications are due Jan. 14 and interviews will be conducted Jan. 17 at the Neptune offices of the Asbury Park Press, according to a notice from Gannett East Group Vice President Tom Donovan that was posted to internal company systems.

The memo–leaked to the Gannett Blog, an unofficial resource for news and rumors about the company run by former Gannett employee Jim Hopkins–states applications for other positions will be accepted until Jan. 21, and interviews will take place Jan. 25.

“The restructuring of our LICs [local information centers, or newsrooms] is designed to create an organization that can advance our breaking news capabilities, watchdog reporting, enterprise content and depth of local news and information across a diverse set of media platforms to best serve our readers and advertisers,” Donovan, also publisher of the Asbury Park Press, said in the notice.

Gannett employees reached Monday confirmed the authenticity of the notice.

Donovan could not be reached at the Asbury Park Press office Monday night, nor could a representative of Gannett corporate communications. The Daily Record’s publisher, Joe Cavone, declined comment.

The Daily Record, Courier News and Home News last saw major layoffs in the summer of 2009, when several operations were consolidated with those of the Asbury Park Press. All copy editing and design work was moved to the Neptune paper. Most copy editors were offered the opportunity to continue employment at that office, while management-level editors were asked to reapply for a reduced selection of open positions.

“As a 30-plus-year journalist, I’m saddened and dismayed at this kind of slash-and-burn management style that Gannett has been showing of late,” said Janine Torsiello, who lost her associate features editor job at the Daily Record in the 2009 layoffs. “I think it’s doing a great disservice to the people of Morris County who have been loyal to this publication for a long time.”

Torsiello and other former Daily Record employees anticipate soon launching MorrisBeats.com, a Morris County arts and lifestyles Web publication.

“There are other venues that will rise up … that will take the place of this,” she said. “I don’t understand why they’re taking local coverage so lightly, when in fact it has been their bread and butter.”

Note: Louis C. Hochman is a former employee of the Daily Record. He left the newspaper in May 2010.