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Journalists at country’s largest newspaper chain will walk off the job


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Journalists for the largest newspaper chain in the country will walk off the job next week, in a series of strikes staged in part to protest the leadership of the company’s chief executive.

Hundreds of staffers for 24 Gannett newspapers, including the Arizona Republic, Austin American-Statesman and the Palm Beach Post, say they will not report to work for a day or two starting Monday, forfeiting pay and forgoing assignments ranging from city council meetings to high school sports championship games. At some papers, the strikes begin Tuesday.

Their aim, they say, is to call attention to budget cuts and put pressure on shareholders, who are expected to take up the issue of executive pay at a meeting Monday. Demonstrating journalists want shareholders to take a no-confidence vote against CEO Mike Reed, whom they fault for the company’s financial struggles.

In a financial filing, the NewsGuild — the union representing more than 50 Gannett newsrooms — writes that Reed has “failed shareholders,” arguing that other newspaper companies are faring better.

“[Journalists] need support and resources to make sure our communities have the local news needed to keep our democracy thriving,” Jon Schleuss, NewsGuild president, said in a statement.

In a company statement, Gannett said “our leadership is focused on investing in local newsrooms and monetizing our content” during a challenging economic climate. “Our goal is to preserve journalism and serve our communities across the country as we continue to bargain in good faith to finalize contracts that provide equitable wages and benefits for our valued employees.”

Gannett also said it was prepared for the anticipated work stoppage and pledged that “no disruption to our content or ability to deliver trusted news.”

The Gannett walkout — expected to be the largest in the newspaper chain’s history — will be the just latest labor protest of this kind to hit American newsrooms in recent months.

In December, more than 1,000 New York Times staffers walked off the job for a day in one of the most dramatic labor disputes at the company in decades. And on Friday, workers at the digital media company Insider say they will go on an indefinite strike if their demands on health-care benefits and contract negotiations are not met.

Gannett’s walkout follows a smaller protest in November when journalists at 14 of the company’s newsrooms walked off protesting job cuts and calling for increased wages.

Gannett merged with the GateHouse chain in 2019, a deal that executives promised would lead to dramatic cost savings while critics warned of job cuts and leaner newsrooms. While the resulting company included 261 daily newspapers and 302 weeklies, those numbers had shrunk by the end of last year to 217 dailies and 175 weeklies, after some papers were shuttered or sold.

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle education reporter Justin Murphy said Monday’s protest represents a “desperation and fear that not only is our workplace and our employer going astray, but the consequences for our communities will be truly devastating.”

Gannett last summer froze hundreds of positions and laid off 400 employees — some of whom were the last remaining reporters at their newspapers — after a dismal financial quarter. Gannett has also offered voluntary buyouts and in December laid off 6 percent of its roughly 3,400-person news staff.

A year before he joined the paper in 2012, Murphy said the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle had a newsroom with 86 union members — a count that excludes editors and other managers — but that the number is now down to 23.

“Those of us who are left are kind of local journalism sickos who just can’t stop doing this,” he said. “As we’ve had cutbacks and cutbacks and they’ve asked us to do more and more, we’ve done it because we think it’s important that the work get done, and that’s just how we’re wired. But it’s one thing to do that when you have 86 people going to 80 or 73, but to 23? It doesn’t make sense anymore.”

Sportswriter Rob Aitken grew up reading the newspaper where he now works, the Record in northern New Jersey. “It was the best thing in the world to see your name in this paper,” he recalled. “It meant you were something.”

But now he says some high school sports are rarely written about, as staffers are stretched too thin. “You want to try to be everywhere and cover every great story. It makes you wonder how many great stories are not being told,” he said. “When we can tell a story about a kid and give them enough attention that maybe they get a college scholarship — you wonder how many kids aren’t getting that opportunity now.”

After the cutbacks, Gannett ended the year with a quarterly profit of $32.77 million, and $1.27 billion in outstanding debt.

The walkout also follows the departure of several top Gannett executives in recent months, as well as editors at some of the chain’s largest newspapers.

In a May earnings call, Reed said “2023 is off to a great start,” noting that the cuts and other “cost management initiatives” had boosted Gannett’s net income to $10.3 million, compared to a loss of $3 million during the first quarter of 2022. Digital subscriptions also grew by about 15 percent from the same time frame the previous year, totaling around 2 million paid subscribers.

Reed has also said he’s open to selling more Gannett newspapers.

“We would entertain bids on any of our markets, any of our products, that are at or above fair-market value,” he said in February. “We’re hopeful that we’ll have an opportunity this year to do that. But it’s not anything that’s in our plans.”

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Pork-pocalypse now? In wake of Supreme Court ruling and 2016 vote, pork prices could soar in Mass.

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Now the Massachusetts law could soon go into effect, and it will cover the sale of all uncooked “whole pork” items: bacon, ham, chops, ribs, roasts, or cutlets made entirely of pork meat. Hot dogs and other combined pork products do not fall under this purview.

Pork purveyors here say that means prices are about to pop. Katz fears his cuts could double or triple in price, at a time when consumers are already feeling burned by inflation.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “It’s making life miserable for everybody.”

It began with an effort to make life better for pigs.

In 2016, Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly approved the Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, which required eggs, veal, and pork sold in the state to meet animal welfare standards. At the time, the anti-confinement law was hailed as the most progressive animal protection regulation in the world. The veal industry voluntarily agreed to end the use of crates in 2017, and the “cage-free” egg rules took effect in Massachusetts in 2022.

But the pork regulations were put on hold while industry groups challenged that similar California law, which bans the use of “gestational crates” to raise any pork sold in that giant state. These 7-by-2-foot pens are designed to house 500- to 800-pound sows in such a way that they won’t crush their piglets after birth. But the animals generally spend four months at a time in the crates, unable to move, turn around, or nest with their newborns. Animal rights groups call them “horrific conditions.”

Eight other states have passed laws banning the use of gestational crates for rearing pigs, including Maine and Rhode Island, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Massachusetts and California are the only two that ban sales of pork from such farms.

The pork industry has argued that the new Massachusetts and California standards would make it far harder to raise meat, and would result in higher production costs.

Too bad, said the Supreme Court.

“While the Constitution addresses many weighty issues, the type of pork chops California merchants may sell is not on that list,” Judge Neil Gorsuch wrote in a majority opinion.

And the same, say supporters of the 2016 Massachusetts ballot measure, should apply here.

“We got 78 percent of the vote” in Massachusetts, said Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action, which helped draft the ballot proposals. “What it showed is that your average consumer thought it was ludicrous that these animals would be so severely mistreated.”

Now local pork-sellers are waiting for guidance on how to proceed. The attorney general’s office said any petition for a rehearing on the California law would need to be filed by June 5, and if none is made, the high court will issue its final judgment the week of June 12. That would then trigger a 30-day deadline of July 12 for the pork regulations to go into effect.

A spokesman for Attorney General Andrea Campbell said her office is “reviewing the decision and will provide updates when we have more to say about next steps.” Lawmakers so far have been mum about any legislative fixes.

State Senator Jason Lewis, who sponsored the Massachusetts bill, said in a statement that he “is pushing hard for this law to go into effect and start being enforced as soon as possible.”

But even as they await guidance, restaurants, grocery stores, and food banks are bracing for the impact.

“It’s going to hurt the people who are at the margins, and that’s who we service,” said Marc Iannotti, the chief operating officer of the family-run chain of Shop and Compare Markets in Lynn and Chelsea. While prices of other protein sources have ticked up due to pandemic shortages and inflation, he said, pork prices have remained stable, hovering at $1.50 per pound wholesale. Now Iannotti’s vendors are telling him the implementation of the law could result in prices nearly doubling. And that has him worried.

“Our customers are the people who are near or below the poverty line,” he said.

Indeed, purveyors note, many local immigrant populations rely heavily on pork as a staple. Food banks, too, worry what rising pork prices might mean for their pantries.

These changes are “concerning at a time when there is already historic cost of food due to inflation coupled with historic need,” said Catherine Lynn, vice president of communications with the Greater Boston Food Bank. “While these practices may be more humane for the animals, and likely the right thing to do, oftentimes the result tends to act as a regressive measure, disproportionately and negatively impacting those who are less economically advantaged.”

Part of the issue is the food supply chain.

Vanishingly little pork is raised in Massachusetts, or in California. Most of it comes from large processing plants located closer to pig farms in the Midwest. Currently, just 4 percent of US pork meets the new California — and Massachusetts — standards, according to analysts at Rabobank. And while the $54 billion industry has expanded prolifically over the last decade, consumer habits have not kept up. There’s now an oversupply of pork in the market, and hog farmers have recently shuttered operations across the country as their fortunes have faltered. Many are now calling these new restrictions yet another financial blow, as they’re forced to retrofit facilities to meet the requirements.

Jim Monroe, a spokesperson for Smithfield Foods, which slaughters 30 million hogs a year and is the country’s largest pork producer, said that the company spent $360 million to convert its 400 corporate-owned farms to a so-called group-housing system that provides sows with more room, which debuted in 2017.

While some animal rights groups hailed the Smithfield system as more humane, others contend gestational crates remain a significant part of Smithfield’s operations.

Now, Monroe said the company will need to make significant changes to comply with the new laws and sell in California and Massachusetts. “Now, not only have goalposts moved, but they’re moving differently in different states,” Monroe said. “A patchwork of state-by-state regulations is not conducive to an efficient food production system that keeps food affordable.”

“It’s unworkable,” he added. Facility conversions will be expensive, “and unfortunately it’s going to be borne by consumers.”

Still, supporters say it’s worth it. The average American eats one-third of a pig each year — just over 50 pounds of pork — Pacelle said. Some 130 million pigs are slaughtered annually. Given those numbers, he said voters in Massachusetts and California are bending the nation’s food supply for the better.

“The public does not have an appetite for this kind of inhumane treatment of farm animals,” he said.

And the voters knew what they were doing when they voted in these rules, said Parke Wilde, a professor in food policy at Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

“I think protecting animals that provide our food from the worst forms of cruelty is something that’s popular with voters,” he said. “I don’t think voters were oblivious to the fact that there would be some price implications.”

Of course, a lot has happened to food prices since 2016. COVID-19 outbreaks at processing plants resulted in meat shortages and exposed the vulnerability of the supply chain. And record-level inflation has made consumers more stressed about costs.

Before the portion of the ballot measure that covered eggs took effect in January 2022, state lawmakers reworked it to prevent Massachusetts’ egg market from cracking by adding a stipulation that hens could be housed in facilities where they are able to move around vertically. Even so, the law was cited as a reason the cost of eggs jumped to record levels late last year, as the new welfare standards, coupled with an avian flu outbreak, put excess strain on the supply chain.

Now, in the wake of “Egg-mageddon,” those working in the food service industries in Massachusetts are figuring out how to prepare for a potential pork-pocalypse.

“There is not going to be enough compliant pork that meets the Massachusetts regulations,” said Steve Clark, head of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association. “You’re going to see availability go down and price go up.”

And already beleaguered restaurant owners worry that will make their customers squeal.

Brian Treitman owns the B.T.’s Smokehouse restaurants in Sturbridge, Worcester, and at the Polar Park baseball complex, and last year bought 200,000 pounds of pork butt and 150,000 pounds of ribs. He and his co-owner were running the numbers this week and think they might have to hike the pulled pork sandwich prices from $13 to $17 per plate.

Pulled pork “is one of those items on the menu that helps you keep your costs down, it’s easily accessible,” he said. Ribs are pricier: They cost $1.79 per pound before the pandemic, but have ticked up to $3.50. “We were looking at what kind of business we did for ribs last year and whether it’s worth keeping them on the menu if they hit $6 or $7 a pound.”

He joked about the possibility of opening a commissary in Connecticut to prepare his pulled pork and then transport it into Massachusetts (the law only pertains to uncooked pork).

That probably won’t happen. But pork producers, and purveyors, probably need to find ways to adapt, rather than battling the new rules in court, said Pacelle. Consumers want to know that the food they eat has been ethically raised, he said.

Their backs are against the wall, he said, and “they’re really getting more and more isolated.”

In short, he said, they’re now penning themselves in.

Janelle Nanos can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @janellenanos.

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From the editor: Sonoma County trans student-athlete’s story is not ours to tell

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As wildfire smoke worsens public health, government watchdog calls EPA response 'ad hoc'

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A new father drove home from the hospital in downtown Modesto, scared — not by having a newborn baby, but by smoke-filled, “apocalyptic-looking skies.” Tom Helme couldn’t see past the next stoplight on the flat, straight road ahead. On that fall day in 2017, it was dark, he said, “like if a nuclear bomb went off, or something blocked the sun.” The San Joaquin Valley was already years into what regulators now say is a downward slide in air quality, choked by smoke from frequent wildfires.

In a recent report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, concluded that the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to wildfire smoke is “ad hoc,” poorly resourced and muddled by a lack of coordination with other agencies.

“You could ask anybody working on wildfire smoke and the answer is no, we’re not doing enough,” said Meredith Bauer, assistant director for the air and radiation division in EPA Region 9, which includes California. “Not yet. Not yet.”

Over the last three decades, the number of acres burned by wildfire has grown, spewing smoke across California and the country. The new GAO report highlights how a loophole in the Clean Air Act permits the EPA to erase pollution — not from the sky, but from the record.

The tool for erasing some of the worst air-pollution days is called the “exceptional events” rule — a legal pathway that allows local regulators to make a case that air pollution from “natural” wildfires shouldn’t count against their federal air quality goals.

Local regulators who seek to designate wildfires as exceptional events say doing so sets off a complex, burdensome process that is nonetheless essential to avoid slipping further away from meeting air quality standards — even if removing wildfire smoke from the record doesn’t actually clean up the air. According to the GAO, federal regulators have granted such requests more often over the last decade.

In Modesto, Helme first heard about exceptional events more than a year before his son’s birth, as a member of an environmental justice advisory group that meets with regulators. Officials at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District had explained to the group that federal law permitted communities to avoid tighter regulation when pollution is “outside the control of the region.”

Helme says that at that meeting, he wondered out loud whether smoke from fires was going to become the norm. “Do you picture a time when it’s not going to be considered exceptional because it happens every single year?” he asked. “And what are our options with that?”

Erasing dangerous smoke from the data

Wildfire smoke is one of the fastest-growing sources of air pollution in the United States. Particulate pollution from fires drives health risks that are significant to pregnant people, children, outdoor workers, residents of leaky buildings and anyone with heart or lung ailments. Ozone produced by wildfires can cause irritation and inflammation of the lungs; even short-term exposure above certain levels raises the risk of premature death.

Yet, the 1970 Clean Air Act gives regulators little ability to take actions that could limit wildfire smoke. That’s because the landmark law focused on soot spewing from smokestacks and tailpipes. Policymakers viewed human-made pollution as the primary threat to public health, said University of Colorado at Boulder geographer Katie Clifford. “Ultimately the thinking about pollution was not about natural risks,” she said.

In contrast, the EPA, which enforces the Clean Air Act, has treated some wildfires, dust storms and volcanic eruptions as naturally occurring outliers.

“If pollution is created by people and it’s controllable, that’s what we want to manage,” said the EPA’s Meredith Bauer. “It’s everything that’s outside of that that we would call an exceptional event.”

The exceptional events rule, added to the Clean Air Act in 2005, has enabled regulators to ignore pollution data from some events when deciding whether a particular region must do more to improve its air quality. The closer that regions come to meeting federal air quality standards, the fewer restrictions local businesses and other polluters face. Forgiving wildfire pollution helps them meet those standards — and it has been happening more frequently over the last decade, according to the new GAO analysis, which named California, Colorado, Rhode Island and Texas as places that have sought to have wildfire pollution data excused.

Michael Wara, a Stanford Law School professor who directs the Climate and Energy Policy Program at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, says the GAO’s findings are concerning.

“The whole point of the Clean Air Act is to protect people,” he said. “If a part of the law that was seldom used becomes frequently used, then the entire purposes of the act are being undermined.”

The GAO report makes it clear that the exceptional events rule is one of the few tools the EPA has to respond to the problem.

“There’s very little legal or regulatory language defining EPA’s role in smoke management other than our exceptional events program,” said Anna Mebust, an atmospheric scientist at the Environmental Protection Agency who works on exceptional events.

Wildfire smoke is “not something that the law was written to handle,” added Wara.

Hundreds of hours, hundreds of thousands of dollars

The GAO’s investigation also found that proving an exceptional event is burdensome. The EPA told the watchdog that “providing guidance for and reviewing the analyses demand a significant resource investment” for its regional offices. Local regulators described the process as overly cumbersome and convoluted.

“It is literally hundreds of hours of work” to prove that smoke pollution is an exceptional event, said Mark Loutzenhiser, who manages monitoring, programs and rules for the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District.

Exceptional event demonstrations can run to hundreds of pages, just to write off smoke pollution for a day or two. Successful arguments help local communities avoid having to enforce stricter pollution controls.

“You have to show where the wildfire is. Was the wind actually blowing it there? Do you have satellite proof?” Loutzenhiser said. The EPA “look[s] at all of the pollutants. They look at all the weather conditions and they check to see, what do we think the pollution should have been, versus what did we actually measure? And you have to do this for every day of these exceptional events.”

Julie Hunter, interim air pollution control officer for the Northern Sierra Air Quality Management District, says preparing for a future exceptional event designation also means extra work tracking public health advisories and media reports about fire severity — even while it’s still burning.

All that effort during and after wildfires is costly. The GAO says some local and state regulators hire consultants to help, including government scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. In public documents, states estimate it can cost from $50,000 to $150,000 to prepare a filing.

As the EPA considers tightening the national standard for fine particulates, and as conditions for wildfires are worsening with climate change, regulators say they may see more requests to excuse that pollution.

“We do need some help here. If the EPA will be constantly asking us for these large, resource-intensive packages … can we not streamline that, with EPA assisting us, saying, yes, we know that there was this giant wildfire?” Hunter said. “That’s our plea to EPA: Please help us streamline this process.”

Health risks grow, resources don’t

Even as smoke pollutes our air, the GAO reports that the EPA “does not have a coordinated agency-wide program or dedicated staff and resources for the agency’s work related to helping communities prepare for and respond to wildfire smoke.”

According to the report, work on wildfire smoke by the EPA is “done in addition to employees’ regular job duties.” Working on wildfire pollution is “like our Cinderella project — you know, after you’ve cleaned everything, you can go to the ball,” said EPA’s Bauer. “We work on this out of a passion for helping people.”

“It’s very difficult to tap resources when we don’t have a mandate,” said the EPA’s Mebust. “I think our federal partners, their roles are more clearly defined.”

The GAO report makes a number of recommendations for the EPA to begin to better address pollution caused by wildfires. They include coordinating with other agencies to communicate risk and looking for ways to help reduce the likelihood of future smoke events.

In its response, EPA officials told the GAO that the programs that would accomplish these goals are underfunded and that it is “limited by its resources in its ability to respond to this growing threat.”

Meanwhile, exceptional events for wildfires are becoming less and less exceptional. “The data demonstrates that,” said Wara. “And we should be concerned.”

The federal Office of Management and Budget estimates wildfire smoke exposure could increase federal health care expenditures by $128 million to $226 million each year by the end of the century.

In the San Joaquin Valley, Tom Helme’s son, now 5, struggles with asthma.

Helme knows there are always going to be wildfires in California. But he’s not satisfied with the response of officials to those fires. “I don’t think they’re completely outside our control,” he said.

Photo credit: Beth LaBerge of KQED. Caption: A view of the San Francisco skyline from Dolores Park in San Francisco on Sept. 9, 2020.

MuckRock’s Chris Amico contributed to this report.

The California Newsroom is a collaboration of California public radio stations. MuckRock is a nonprofit, collaborative platform and newsroom that brings together journalists, researchers and the public to request, analyze and share primary source data and documents in the public interest.

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Gannett is experiencing a mass exodus among top execs. Here’s who has left. - Poynter

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USA Today’s vice president and executive editor of news and initiatives Kristen Go will be leaving Friday, making her the eighth high-ranking editor or executive to depart Gannett in the last six months.

The company, which underwent several rounds of cuts last year, has experienced a mass exodus among top leadership. In November, president of Gannett Media and USA Today publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth announced she would be leaving at the end of the year. A wave of departures followed, including president of Gannett’s news division and USA Today editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll and senior vice president of local news and audience development Amalie Nash.

Executive editors at some of Gannett’s largest local papers have also left. George Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, told staff in December that he made the decision to retire after the company announced its series of cutbacks. Weeks later, Detroit Free Press editor Peter Bhatia announced he would be resigning too. Bhatia told his staff he hoped his departure would reduce the number of planned layoffs at the paper. Both editors were giants in the industry, having led staffs to multiple prestigious awards.

The masthead-level departures have left employees at Gannett concerned about the future of the company. Gannett, which owns roughly 200 dailies and is the country’s largest newspaper chain, went into financial freefall last summer. Massive quarterly losses led to more than 600 layoffs, furloughs, a hiring slowdown and the suspension of company contributions to employee 401(k) plans.

Those severe cuts have saved the company money — Gannett reported profits for the last two quarters despite declining revenue — but they have also driven people away, many of whom had decades of experience at the company.

The departures signal a near complete turnover among top Gannett news leadership. GateHouse bought Gannett in 2019 but kept the Gannett name and many of its top leaders, most of whom left in the recent exodus.

Many of the executives who have left have not shared publicly their reasons for leaving, though some have announced new roles. Carroll, who declined to comment for this story, has joined the Arizona State University Media Enterprise to head a local journalism initiative, and Bhatia is now CEO of the new non-profit news site Houston Landing. Gannett spokesperson Lark-Marie Anton said in an email that the company does not comment on personnel matters but is “grateful” for the contributions of current and departed employees.

Though it has been clear to employees that Gannett was struggling financially, many were shocked when Perez Wadsworth announced she was leaving and took her departure as an ominous sign.

“She had just been promoted,” said Julie Makinen, former executive editor of The Desert Sun in Palm Springs and regional editor for Gannett’s California papers. “She didn’t say so, but we figured she couldn’t stomach the changes.”

Perez Wadsworth was Gannett’s No. 2 executive, behind CEO Mike Reed, and highly respected as a journalist. She had been with the company for more than 25 years, and in June, she was promoted to president of the newly formed Gannett Media group and given additional responsibilities. But six months later, she was out. (Perez Wadsworth could not be reached for comment.)

Perez Wadsworth’s interim replacement, Henry Faure Walker, who runs Gannett’s British subsidiary, was not popular, Makinen said. “The handwriting was on the wall. Who the hell was this guy?” Sample initiatives from Faure Walker included higher story counts and shorter stories.

During the December layoffs, Gannett slashed its news division by 6%. One of the casualties of the layoffs was executive editor of The Providence Journal, David Ng. Some leaders were told to expect more cuts to come. Bhatia wasn’t told to make additional cuts but sensed the company’s problems weren’t over after the fourth quarter and decided to leave.

“I was almost in a position to retire, and I didn’t want to leave,” said Bhatia, who served as regional editor over newspapers in Michigan and Ohio in addition to overseeing the Free Press. “It was a painful thing. These layoffs could go very deep. I just didn’t want to do it.”

Makinen decided to leave in March. “There was a continual hunt for even small cost savings bordering on the absurd.”

“It had the ring of desperation,” she said, “as if they were hunting for change in the seat cushions …. It was clear they had no intention of investing in the majority of papers. They were going into hospice care.”

That month, Jennifer Orsi, executive editor of the (Sarasota) Herald-Tribune and regional editor of Gannett’s Florida and Georgia papers, also left. (Orsi now works at the Poynter Institute.) At the corporate level, Nash, who was Gannett’s top ranking editor over local news, left the same day as Orsi. Similarly to Perez Wadsworth, Nash was a well respected journalist and longtime executive at the company, and many were left dismayed.

A business executive, Kris Barton, president of digital marketing solutions, and news’ senior director of career development and training, Mackenzie Warren, departed in March as well, according to their LinkedIn profiles.

At USA Today, senior director of opinion, engagement and partnerships Kristen DelGuzzi left in February. By May, executive editor of news and investigations Jeff Taylor and editor-in-chief Carroll were also gone.

The exodus of Carroll, Taylor and Go, combined with the departure of other editors, means that nearly the entire USA Today masthead has left within the last six months.

Gannett chief content officer Kristin Roberts, who joined the company from McClatchy in March, has told USA Today staff that she is working to fill vacancies and that she has no plans for additional layoffs this year, according to two USA Today employees.

Asked about Roberts’ and the company’s plans, Anton wrote in an email that Roberts joined Gannett to “champion innovative storytelling opportunities and develop strategic content initiatives to expand our audience and drive growth.”

In recent earnings calls, Reed cut an optimistic tone. During the call covering Gannett’s first quarter results, he told shareholders, “We believe our most challenging comparisons to prior year are behind us. … We are at an inflection point in the trajectory of our company.”

While still laboring under a huge debt from the 2019 merger, Gannett recorded a profit for the second quarter in a row. The company also raised its full year outlook for adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization), net income and cash flow.

Still, people are leaving. One USA Today employee estimated that nearly 30 people have given notice since March. Along with Go, deputy managing editor for politics Luciana Lopez is also leaving, and data editor Steve Suo left last week.

Despite the departures, the company’s goals for the newsroom have not changed, according to two USA Today employees. One of those employees said that they worry about their colleagues who now have a heavier workload.

That is the bigger story, they said. Not the departures, but the people who are left behind.

Media business analyst Rick Edmonds contributed reporting.

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It’s Tennis vs. Pickleball vs. Padel. Or Is It?

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