More than a dozen of Massachusetts’ top mid-sized newspapers are facing even more layoffs, because $32 million in profit isn’t enough for their Wall Street owners. Reports David L. Harris in the Boston Business Journal:
The cuts come as the company, which owns more than 100 newspapers in Massachusetts including the Patriot Ledger and Worcester Telegram & Gazette, reports a 50 percent drop in profit for 2016 — to $32 million on $1.3 billion in generally flat revenue. New Media blamed its challenged financial results on the “further decline in traditional print” as well as a challenging holiday season experienced by its retail advertisers, which caused lower advertising spending.
It’s not immediately clear if those cuts would come from its workforce itself, but the company did say that the savings would come from “synergies from out latest acquisitions.” GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis did not immediately return a message seeking comment. [...]
So far, New Media has spent $735 million buying up newspapers since it was formed in 2014, taking advantage of the flagging value of print newspapers across the U.S. New Media is managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group, which announced last week it would be acquired by Japanese multinational firm SoftBank Group for $3.3 billion.
Gee, I wonder why traditional print is declining? Who can say, we’re too busy laying off all our reporters and editors and literally selling customers a smaller newspaper for the same price! But it’s OK because we’re using the money to hire digital sales reps! Of course, we have no editors left, so the ad space they’re selling is on a “newspaper website” that has pictures of people with no heads:
My local New Bedford Standard-Times is owned by GateHouse Media (formerly Liberty Group Publishing), which after bankruptcy was reorganized under New Media Investment Group, Inc., which is owned by private equity giant Fortress Investment Group LLC with $70.2 billion in assets. It somehow scraped together enough to pay GateHouse Media CEO Kirk Davis $2.1 million in 2015.
Meanwhile, the Standard-Times has laid off so many staffers that it’s leased out a big chunk of its space to a bank.
In Massachusetts, New Media/GateHouse/Fortress/SoftBank Group owns:
- The Cape Cod Times
- The Standard-Times of New Bedford
- The Herald News of Fall River
- Taunton Daily Gazette
- The Enterprise of Brockton
- MetroWest Daily News of Framingham
- Telegram & Gazette of Worcester
- The Eagle-Tribune of Andover
- Daily News of Newburyport
- Gloucester Daily Times
- Salem Evening News
- The Milford Daily News
- The Patriot Ledger of Quincy
But are the layoffs a bug or a feature? As Wall Street owners keep laying off journalists, their industry friends can keep pushing their “alternative facts” to the skeleton staff left behind.