More Cuts Could Be Coming at Three Oregon Newspapers

More layoffs may be near at already depleted Gannett newspapers in Oregon.

Gannett, the owner of the Statesman Journal in Salem, The Register-Guard in Eugene and the Daily Journal of Commerce in Portland, says it plans to cut more staff in its news division and will notify affected employees on Dec. 1-2, 2022. 

“While we have taken several steps already, we must enter the new year in a stronger economic position, and the reality is that our news cost base is currently too high for the revenues it generates,” Henry Faure Walker, who is temporarily overseeing Gannett’s U.S. news operations, wrote in a recent memo to employees. “Regretfully, this means we will be implementing further reductions.”

The cuts will follow the company’s net loss of $54.1 million in the three months ending Sept. 30 and previous nationwide layoffs that affected its Oregon operations. About 400 employees were laid off earlier this year.

Gannett has also paused its 401(k) match and most hiring, offered employees a voluntary severance plan and is having workers take five days of unpaid leave. 

The Statesman Journal, Oregon’s second-oldest newspaper, was sold to Gannett in 1973. Currently listing 15 reporters on its website, it has been steadily shrinking in staff and as a reliable news source. The paper is one of the Gannett properties that lost staff in cutbacks earlier this year. 

The Register-Guard, formed in a 1930 merger of two Eugene papers, the Eugene Daily Guard and the Morning Register, was acquired by GateHouse Media in 2018. At the time, the paper had 240 full-and part-time employees. The newspaper has been owned by Gannett since Gannett’s 2019 merger with Gatehouse. The paper’s current website lists just 5 reporters. 

Founded in 1872, the Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC) provides resources and reporting on the Portland, Oregon building and construction market. Owned by Gannett through its BridgeTower Media division, the paper has a circulation of 1,966, according to the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association.

UPDATE 12/15/2022: The latest Gannett cutbacks have resulted in at least one Oregon layoff, Statesman Journal reporter Natalie Pate Gwin, who had covered education at the paper for the past 7 1/2 years. Separately, Register-Guard editor, Michelle Maxwell, left the paper on Nov. 11, 2022. Her departure came nine days after the paper announced it would no longer publish “traditional opinion pieces — letters to the editor, editorials and guest opinions.”

UPDATE 03/10/2022: The Columbia Journalism Review reported that Nieman Lab’s Joshua Benton crunched the numbers from Gannett’s most recent annual report and found an “astonishing” record of “shrinkage”: since merging with GateHouse in 2019, Gannett has cut nearly sixty percent of its workforce and either sold or shuttered over a hundred of its papers, while circulation has plummeted at those that remain. Alden Global Capital has the most villainous reputation of any US publisher, Benton writes, but “​​nocompany has done more to shrink local journalism” than Gannett of late.


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