Akron Beacon Journal Among GateHouse Media Newspapers to See Staff Cuts

May 26, 2019

Two managers were laid off at the Akron Beacon Journal Friday, bringing the total of newsroom cuts to nine over the past two days. It's the latest blow to a print industry battling digital competition.

The Beacon Journal is one of 156 daily newspapers and more than 300 weeklies owned by New York-based GateHouse Media.

Citing "significant financial pressures on the newspaper industry" GateHouse Media Ohio publisher Bill Albrecht posted a statement describing the Akron paper as a "newsroom in transition." 

The availability of news on-line has devastated newspaper subscriptions across the country.  Doug Livingston who chairs the Akron unit of the Local One News Guild said on-line advertising hasn't filled that revenue gap.

"We need to find ways to work together to make this industry more viable and that's what we try to do,” he said. “We try to be flexible and find ways that we can turn a profit in this tough industry, right now."

In a Friday morning memo, GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis described some of the company's plans for maintaining high-quality journalism, while keeping costs down. Among them was creating “a national investigative and data-driven reporting team of more than 30 talented editors and reporters with track records of award-winning, high-impact journalism. The team will be embedded in newsrooms which will add considerably to our local efforts.”

News Guild chair Doug Livingston expressed mixed feelings.

“That sounds great,” he said. “But, that shouldn’t come at the expense of local reporters, and local journalists and local photographers who are just serving local communities. We won four Pulitzer Prizes at the Beacon Journal and these Pulitzer Prize reporting jobs are not won by one team. They’re the product of grunt work that’s done day in and day out."

A compensation plan for Davis was rejected by shareholders on Thursday, according to a Boston business publication, which said GateHouse lost $9.4 million in the first quarter of this year. That's a significant increase from a $665,000 loss reported during the same period a year ago. 

The Beacon Journal was acquired by GateHouse in April 2018. More than 100 employees were cut from other GateHouse publications this week, including newsrooms in Columbus and Canton. This week's cuts are the company's second round of layoffs in less than a year.