Gannett, owner of the Austin American-Statesman, USA Today, and about 100 other daily newspapers, announced it will begin furloughing employees next month, according to multiple reports and confirmed by Statesman journalists, some of whom tweeted about the news.
According to the Washington Post, the company was told via an internal memo on Monday, March 30. The memo also noted that while readership was soaring due to COVID-19 coverage, the company was anticipating ad revenue to decline sharply in the wake of the virus.
Certain Gannett newsroom employees making more than $38,000 per year will be required to take one week of unpaid leave for April, May, and June, reports the Post, who obtained a copy of the memo. For context, the median household income for the U.S. in 2018 was $63,179.
So to recap, newsrooms across the country — including the Austin American-Statesman — will lose local reporters every single week during the biggest global health crisis ever.
The Statesman has already seen its share of tumult in the past few years. In 2018, the newspaper was sold to New York-based GateHouse Media for $50 million. Six months later, GateHouse offered buyout packages to every single one of the Statesman employees.
In 2019, ownership underwent yet another change when GateHouse acquired Gannett (and a new name) for $1.4 billion. Today, it is the largest operator of local newspapers in the country.