Gannett to move 485 business-side jobs to Hyderabad

Pandemic forces faster job cuts in US news industry

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

A report by Poynter says that GateHouse-Gannett is undertaking a massive company-wide transformation of Gannett, which has told its business office employees that 485 of their jobs are being outsourced to Hyderabad in India. This is to happen early next year, with the employees laid off to be notified by 15 January 2021.

In a frequently asked questions document, the company said this was an efficiency measure to keep costs low. The jobs being outsourced entail billing, invoicing, monthly bookkeeping, and summary reports. Apparently, Gannet has said the laid-off employees could continue till April, and many may be involved in training their replacements, something called ‘transitioning.’

Two of the largest newspaper media houses in the United States were combined in the second half of 2019 as GateHouse Media acquired Gannett for US$ 1.4 billion. The deal concluded in November, created the largest newspaper company in the US with a print circulation of 8.7 million, approximately 7 million more than the McClatchy group with a combined circulation of 2 million copies. Chatham Asset Management acquired McClatchy in a court auction in July approved by the court in August 2020.

When the New Media Investment Group and its GateHouse newspaper chain acquired Gannett, it took a US$ 1.2 billion loan from Apollo Global Capital and assumed another US$ 600 million of debt. Of the debt, US$ 180 million has been repaid, with US$ 500 million refinanced at a lower interest rate. The Poynter story says that the pandemic ad recession has increased the combined group’s financial stress, with nearly all employees given an unpaid leave of a week over several months. Earlier this year, it offered buyouts to employees with about 500 applications accepted, half of them journalists.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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