USA Today president and publisher Dave Hunke, recently announced they would be reorganizing the paper, reports Gannett Blog. Most shockingly for the publication's staff, the reorganization will include layoffs. USA Today, which in April reported a 13.6 percent decrease in circulation over six months, has been under increasing pressure to revive their newspaper sales. Moreover, Today's advertising revenue fell 11 percent during the first quarter, while the overall decline amongst Gannett's (owner of USA Today) other papers was 8 percent.
Hunke announced the upcoming restructuring and layoffs at a staff meeting last week, however he did not include a timetable or details about the upcoming changes. One anonymous commentator on Gannett's blog expressed frustration over the manner in which Hunke shared the news, saying "either Hunke buried the lede or he has so little regard for us that he just plumb forgot to mention the fact that some of us are going to be laid off, and soon." Hunke reportedly waited until the post-meeting Q&A session to share the news about the layoffs.
Moreover, USA Today recently announced that is would delay its plans to start charging for and iPad application, thus dashing and hopes for a slight upturn in revenue. It has also been speculated that the UAST and the Wall Street Journal have been in talks about a deal where they would share advertising sales or news distribution.
Coming off of a success with a Detroit newspaper, Hunke was expected to save USAT when he was hired to the publication in April 2009. Unfortunately, a solution to the woes of the newspaper has thus far escaped him. Facing major competition from The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, USAT will need to re-organize its business model, a model that the Gannett blog states is "overly dependent on the business travel market."
While the layoffs at USAT may be a surprise for its employees, it's certainly nothing new for the newspaper industry, particularly in light of The Guardian's recent voluntary redundancy initiative. Hopefully, however, Hunke's planned re-organization will help to fix USAT's dysfunctional business model. Otherwise, there could be one less contender on the media landscape.
Sources: Gannett Blog