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Gannett Newspapers Sends Employees Home For Week Of Unpaid Leave

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Yowch. Even with the near daily dose of grim news regarding the imminent Death Of All Print media, Editor and Publisher's Greg Mitchell is correct to term this a "shocker": Gannett, publisher of hotel-room staple USA Today, has pulled the trigger on a rumored furlough program that will send most of its U.S. employees home for a week of unpaid leave and rueful musings.

E&P has the memo sent out by Gannett CEO Greg Dubow:

Today Gannett is implementing a furlough program across all U.S. divisions and at corporate headquarters. This means that most of our U.S. employees -- including myself and all other top executives -- will be furloughed for the equivalent of one week in the first quarter. This furlough will be unpaid. Unions also will be asked to participate.

We are doing this to preserve our operations and continue to deliver for our customers while confronting the issues raised by some of the most difficult economic conditions we have ever experienced.

After much consideration, we decided a furlough program would be the fairest and least intrusive way to meet these fiscal challenges in the first quarter, which is traditionally the lightest time of the year. We sincerely hope this minimizes the need for any layoffs going forward.

In the memo, Dubow attests to the fact that the company has "made some very difficult decisions this past year." But at least one of those decisions may be a dubious one: paying $135 million to acquire a majority stake in CareerBuilder, which, I guess, is an innovative way of leveraging the business of the 1,000 employees they had laid off three weeks earlier.