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FROM NATION OF CHANGE:
When Craig Dubow resigned as CEO of the nationís largest newspaper conglomerate amid health problems last year, he ended a six-year stint that was, by most accounts, ď a disasterĒ. Gannett, the parent company of the USA Today and 80 other American newspapers, had seen its revenue plummet $1.7 billion and its stock price fall 86 percent, from $72 a share to just over $10.
To counter those losses, Gannett shed jobs, and a lot of them. Industry estimates say the company has laid off at least 20,000 workers since 2005, reducing its workforce from 52,000 to roughly 32,000. Despite those losses, Gannett awarded Dubow a severance package worth $32 million, NPR reports:
Dubowís final compensation package includes $12.8 million in retirement benefits, $6.2 million in disability benefits, and a $5.9 million severance payment, according to the filing. Gannett stock options and restricted stock, which Dubow had accrued during his years of employment with the company, were also part of the package. Those stock awards are valued at nearly $7 million.
Separately, Gannett will pay $25,000 to $50,000 annually for a $6.2 million life insurance policy covering Dubow and another $70,000 annually for benefits such as health insurance, home computer and secretarial assistance and financial counseling. He will receive most of these benefits for three years unless he goes to work for a competitor, according to the filing.
The lavish severance package Gannett is giving Dubow stands in stark contrast with how it treated many of the 20,000 employees it let go. After giving severance packages to employees during early rounds of layoffs (a common industry practice), Gannett decided in 2009 that it would no longer offer such packages, instead paying supplemental unemployment benefits that shifted most of the costs to states. At the time, Gannett claimed the decision would help many employees get more than they would from severance. But for those who worked or free-lanced at other jobs, that meant theyíd get much less and perhaps nothing at all.
Craig ď championed our consumers and their ever-changing needs for news and information,Ē the chair of Gannettís board of directors said when his retirement was announced in October. The question, as former reporter Peter Lewis asked at the time, is how exactly Dubow served consumers or his employees. ďThey laid off journalists. They cut the pay of those who remained, while demanding that they work longer hours. They closed news bureaus. They slashed newsroom budgets,ĒÄĚ Lewis wrote on his blog. ďAs revenue fell, and stock prices tanked, and product quality deteriorated, ďthey rewarded themselves huge pay raises and bonuses.Ē
IN THE WASHINGTON POST:
USA Today requires most of its 1,425 workers to take unpaid week off to offset weak ad salesBy Associated Press, Thursday, April 5
McLEAN, Va. USA Today is requiring most of its staff to take an unpaid week off to save money, as the nationís second-largest newspaper struggles to sell more advertising.
The furloughs, which were announced Wednesday, are the latest in a series of cost-cutting measures by USA Today since 2008.
When Craig Dubow re¬≠signed as CEO of the na¬≠tion‚Äs largest news¬≠pa¬≠per con¬≠glom¬≠er¬≠ate amid health prob¬≠lems last year, he ended a six-year stint that ‚Äúwas, by most ac¬≠counts,¬ a dis¬≠as¬≠ter.‚ÄĚ¬ Gan¬≠nett, the par¬≠ent com¬≠pany of the USA Today and 80 other Amer¬≠i¬≠can news¬≠pa¬≠pers, had seen its rev¬≠enue plum¬≠met $1.7 bil¬≠lion and its stock price fall 86 per¬≠cent, from $72 a share to just over $10.
To counter those losses, Gan¬≠nett shed jobs, and a lot of them.¬ In¬≠dus¬≠try es¬≠ti¬≠mates say the com¬≠pany has¬ laid off at least 20,000 work¬≠ers¬ since 2005, re¬≠duc¬≠ing its work¬≠force from 52,000 to roughly 32,000.¬ De¬≠spite those losses, Gan¬≠nett awarded Dubow a sev¬≠er¬≠ance pack¬≠age¬ worth $32 mil¬≠lion, NPR re¬≠ports:
Dubow‚Äs final com¬≠pen¬≠sa¬≠tion pack¬≠age in¬≠cludes¬ $12.8 mil¬≠lion in re¬≠tire¬≠ment ben¬≠e¬≠fits, $6.2 mil¬≠lion in dis¬≠abil¬≠ity ben¬≠e¬≠fits, and a $5.9 mil¬≠lion sev¬≠er¬≠ance pay¬≠ment, ac¬≠cord¬≠ing to the fil¬≠ing.¬ Gan¬≠nett stock op¬≠tions and re¬≠stricted stock, which Dubow had ac¬≠crued dur¬≠ing his years of em¬≠ploy¬≠ment with the com¬≠pany, were also part of the pack¬≠age.¬ Those stock awards are val¬≠ued at nearly $7 mil¬≠lion.
Sep¬≠a¬≠rately,¬ Gan¬≠nett will pay $25,000 to $50,000 an¬≠nu¬≠ally for a $6.2 mil¬≠lion life in¬≠sur¬≠ance pol¬≠icy cov¬≠er¬≠ing Dubow and an¬≠other $70,000 an¬≠nu¬≠ally for ben¬≠e¬≠fits such as health in¬≠sur¬≠ance, home com¬≠puter and sec¬≠re¬≠tar¬≠ial as¬≠sis¬≠tance and fi¬≠nan¬≠cial coun¬≠sel¬≠ing.¬ He will re¬≠ceive most of these ben¬≠e¬≠fits for three years un¬≠less he goes to work for a com¬≠peti¬≠tor, ac¬≠cord¬≠ing to the fil¬≠ing.
The lav¬≠ish sev¬≠er¬≠ance pack¬≠age Gan¬≠nett is giv¬≠ing Dubow stands in stark con¬≠trast with how it treated many of the 20,000 em¬≠ploy¬≠ees it let go.¬ After giv¬≠ing sev¬≠er¬≠ance pack¬≠ages to em¬≠ploy¬≠ees dur¬≠ing early rounds of lay¬≠offs (a com¬≠mon in¬≠dus¬≠try prac¬≠tice), Gan¬≠nett de¬≠cided in 2009 that it would¬ no longer offer such pack¬≠ages, in¬≠stead pay¬≠ing sup¬≠ple¬≠men¬≠tal un¬≠em¬≠ploy¬≠ment ben¬≠e¬≠fits that shifted most of the costs to states.¬ At the time, Gan¬≠nett claimed the de¬≠ci¬≠sion would help many em¬≠ploy¬≠ees get more than they would from sev¬≠er¬≠ance.¬ But for those who worked or free-lanced at other jobs, that meant they‚Äd get much less ‚ÄĒ and per¬≠haps noth¬≠ing at all.
‚ÄúCraig¬ cham¬≠pi¬≠oned our con¬≠sumers¬ and their ever-chang¬≠ing needs for news and in¬≠for¬≠ma¬≠tion,‚ÄĚ the chair of Gan¬≠nett‚Äs board of di¬≠rec¬≠tors said when his re¬≠tire¬≠ment was an¬≠nounced in Oc¬≠to¬≠ber.¬ The ques¬≠tion, as for¬≠mer re¬≠porter Peter Lewis asked at the time, is how ex¬≠actly Dubow served con¬≠sumers or his em¬≠ploy¬≠ees.¬ ‚ÄúThey laid off jour¬≠nal¬≠ists.¬ They cut the pay of those who re¬≠mained, while de¬≠mand¬≠ing that they work longer hours.¬ They closed news bu¬≠reaus.¬ They slashed news¬≠room bud¬≠gets,‚ÄĚ Lewis wrote on his blog.¬ ‚ÄúAs rev¬≠enue fell, and stock prices tanked, and prod¬≠uct qual¬≠ity de¬≠te¬≠ri¬≠o¬≠rated,¬ they re¬≠warded them¬≠selves huge pay raises and bonuses.‚ÄĚ
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ABOUT Travis Waldron
Travis Waldron is a reporter/blogger for ThinkProgress.org at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Travis grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, and holds a BA in journalism and political science from the University of Kentucky. Before coming to ThinkProgress, he worked as a press aide at the Health Information Center and as a staffer on Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway‚Äs 2010 Senate campaign. He also interned at National Journal‚Äs Hotline and was a sports writer and political columnist at the Kentucky Kernel, the University of Kentucky‚Äs daily student newspaper.
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‚ÄúBarack Obama‚Äs decision to drop plans for holding the Group of 8 economic summit in Chicago the same weekend as NATO was a victory that should encourage even more demonstrators to show up in May.‚ÄĚ