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Gannett Offers Buyouts to Newspaper Employees

Forty-two Courier-Journal employees are being offered buyouts in exchange for early retirement as part of another round of cost-cutting at the paper’s parent company Gannett.

Across all of Gannett’s newspapers, 665 employees will receive buyout offers. The employees must be more than 56-years-old and have 20 years of service with the company. Those who accept the buyouts will receive two weeks of pay and benefits for each year they’ve worked for a maximum of 52 weeks.

In Louisville, the Courier-Journal says 42 employees have been offered buyouts, and only 20 will be accepted. The employees are in various departments, including news and editorial. All questions about the buyouts have been deferred to Gannett headquarters in Virginia.

Last year, the paper laid off 50 employees. Mandatory weeklong furloughs have persisted for years. This is the first buyout offer since 2008.

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Local News

Two Sections and One Bureau Slashed in Courier-Journal Cuts

Two sections of the Louisville Courier-Journal have been gutted by recent layoffs.

Half of the Neighborhoods section and much of the Velocity staff have been cut. As a result, Velocity will become part of the regular newspaper, rather than a weekly publication distributed independent of the Courier-Journal. A similar weekly publication in Indianapolis recently folded. It was part of the Gannett and Tribune Company joint venture MetroMix, which is online-only in Louisville. With the cuts to Velocity, most, but not all, of the Courier-Journal arts writing staff has been eliminated.

“…arts coverage is gutted, our weekly magazine gone. Neighborhoods section decimated,” wrote Courier and Velocity writer Erin Keane on Twitter, who was among those laid off.

The Neighborhoods section will continue to be published, but it’s not clear how often.

The Indiana State House Bureau has been eliminated entirely. The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star cut more than 60 employees yesterday, two dozen from news.

The layoffs are among 50 made yesterday at the paper. Those 50 are part of the 700 positions parent company Gannett terminated nationwide to cut costs. It’s Gannett’s largest single round of layoffs in two years. The Courier fired 51 employees in 2008, 44 in 2009 and 11 in February of this year.

Publisher Arnold Garson did not return a request for comment from WFPL, but he is quoted in the Courier attributing the cuts to a decline in advertising revenue.

Gannett’s U.S. newspapers division president Bob Dickey, who announced the layoffs in a memo yesterday, earned $3.4 million last year, up from $1.9 million the year before. Gannett’s CEO Craig Dubow earned more than $9 million last year.

Current and former Gannett employees criticized the cuts (and Dubow’s salary) on various social media sites, calling the day of layoffs “inhumane,” “a slaughter,” and saying the newspaper and the community deserve better.

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Local News

Two Southern Indiana Newspapers To Merge

After years of sharing a website, the Jeffersonville Evening News and the New Albany Tribune are merging.

“With the consolidation of the two award-winning newspapers, residents of Clark and Floyd counties will continue to receive the same quality local news and information that they have received in the past, but the News and Tribune will also give readers more regional coverage of Southern Indiana,” said Evening News publisher Bill Hanson in a story posted on the papers’ site.

WFPL is pursuing more on this story.

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Local News

C-J Publisher Discusses Budgets, Cuts

Louisville Courier-Journal Publisher Arnold Garson says readership is up for his paper, but more budget cuts may be necessary.

The growth in readership hasn’t translated to an increase in ad revenue. Many of the paper’s largest advertisers are businesses such as car dealerships that have suffered in the current economy.

But with more people reading the paper, Garson says it’s important to make cuts that will do the least damage to the quality of the publication.

“Obviously content has been affected,” he says. “We have also been targeting those cuts as carefully as we can and trying very to protect the core of the product – the A section, Metro News, the Opinion sections.”

Garson says the Courier’s situation is not as dire as that of the Rocky Mountain News in Denver or the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Rocky Mountain News recently shut down and the Post-Intelligencer only offers its content online.