Shareholders of the parent company of newspaper chain GateHouse Media Inc., New Media Investment Group Inc., rejected a proposed compensation plan that includes $1.7 million for GateHouse CEO Kirk Davis.
The vote, which occurred Thursday, comes as shares of New Media Investment Group (NYSE: NEWM) are trading at all-time lows, and less than a month after the company’s longtime chairman, Wesley R. Edens, resigned from that role and was replaced by New Media CEO Mike Reed.
The vote also coincided with the eliminations of dozens of jobs at GateHouse-owned newspapers, including at least six journalists at the Providence Journal, another six at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, and several more at the New Bedford Standard-Times and the Herald News in Fall River.
* That might seem satisfying to Gatehouse haters, but scroll down…
In addition to the vote on compensation, shareholders on Thursday also approved the company spending $100 million to buy back its own stock, a measure that’s typically taken by companies to increase their share price.
* $100 million could employ a whole lot of Gatehouse reporters…
Another major blow for newspapers. GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers in the United States with 156 daily newspapers and 328 weeklies, slashed jobs across the country Thursday. The official number is unknown, but it appears to be at least several dozen. […]
The Columbus Dispatch cut six positions [Thursday], including feature columnist Joe Blundo, who volunteered to cut back to one column a week. […]
Six were laid off from the Worcester (Massachusetts) Telegram & Gazette and, in a tweet, Worcester Magazine’s Bill Shaner said the magazine’s editor, Walter Bird, and arts editor, Josh Lyford, were laid off, leaving Shaner as the only full-timer left.
At the Daily Commercial in Leesburg (Florida), two were let go, including executive editor Tom McNiff. The paper is now left with just six people to put out a seven-day-a-week paper. Three were let go at The St. Augustine (Florida) Record, including its executive editor. Other Florida papers impacted included the Gainesville Sun and Ocala Star-Banner.
The Beaver County (Pennsylvania) Times laid off an employee who had been at the paper for 35 years. That newsroom had 60 staffers in the early 2000s, but is now down to 12 to put out a three-section paper six days a week. […]
There were also cuts at the Canton (Illinois) Daily Ledger and Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News, including Ben Jones, who covered the University of Alabama football program. Other jobs were eliminated at the Hagerstown (Maryland) Herald-Mail and several papers in in Illinois, including the Peoria Journal Star and Rockford Register Star.
* WEEK TV…
GateHouse Media is making another round of layoffs at newspapers across the country, and Central Illinois isn’t coming out unscathed.
Peoria Journal Star staff photographer Ron Johnson was informed of his layoff while covering the Greater Peoria Honor Flight in Washington, D.C., a source said. Two copy editors with decades of experience were also laid off Thursday. Pagination was recently outsourced from Peoria to GateHouse’s hub in Austin, Texas. […]
At the Canton Daily Ledger, sports editor Shelby Burget tweeted he was laid off at 1 p.m. Thursday. Pekin Daily Times executive editor Jeanette Brickner’s last day was Thursday. Galesburg Register-Mail columnist Tom Loewy was also eliminated.
“The thing that we always have to think about and remember is that our first objective is always what’s the best thing for our shareholders, since we’re a public company,” [Michael Reed, GateHouse chief executive officer] told Doctor. This month, New Media Investment Group, GateHouse’s holding company, paid nearly $100 million in dividends, mostly to institutional investors. At 38 cents per share, the dividend has risen while the stock price has declined, from $25 in 2015 to $10 today, with same-store revenue falling by more than 5 percent annually in 2017 and again in 2018. Lee Enterprises, which owns the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and 45 other papers, hasn’t paid a dividend since 2008. Gannett, second only to GateHouse in number of papers owned, sliced its dividend in 2015 and most recently paid 16 cents per share.
Against this backdrop, SJ-R editor Angie Muhs, once a GateHouse Editor of the Year, resigned this month and was walked out of the building. She reportedly told her staff she hoped her departure would save sufficient salary to prevent more layoffs. She might have been gone no matter what – GateHouse has signaled a move to centralized management that would have a single editor assigned to oversee multiple newspapers.