Florida Times-Union Print Decline Leads to Job Cuts
Layoffs at The Florida Times-Union continue as new owner GateHouse Media, LLC continues its restructuring efforts. The Jacksonville newspaper said it will eliminate its non-production workforce by about 10%, which works out to about 24 jobs being cut. The affected employees work in the newsroom, advertising, circulation, accounting, and administration.
This round of Florida Times-Union Layoffs is in addition to 50 upcoming layoffs that were announced in December.
Commenting on the layoffs, Mark Nusbaum, president of the The Florida Times-Union said “The Times-Union’s digital revenues have been increasing in recent years, but unfortunately, not fast enough to yet offset the print decreases. While these are very difficult decisions to make, it is necessary to deal with the current financial realities.”
Nussbaum, added, “We hope that his re-set will put us on a long-term path to financial success.”
It’s uncertain, however, how axing tenured staff accomplishes that goal. The Florida Times-Union job cuts have seemingly made it more difficult for the major metro paper with a regional presence to cover the news. According to one source, the newspaper is down to just two photographers.
Indeed, readership at The Florida Times-Union has fallen drastically over the last 10 years, and has stagnated since 2015. In the spring of 2008, the newspaper had 590,000 readers. That number fell to 470,000 in spring 2011, 390,000 in spring 2014, and 300,000 in spring 2017.
Turning those numbers around will be a monumental task for new owners Gatehouse Media. A thinned-out staff may not necessarily translate into new readers.
More Newspaper Layoffs in 2018 at The Florida Times-Union
In August 2017, Morris Communications Company, LLC announced that it sold The Florida Times-Union and the St. Augustine Record, along with nine other dailies, to Gatehouse Media for around $120.0 million. The deal also included its commercial print operation in Lubbock, Texas. Since the acquisition was completed in October, Gatehouse has been busy restructuring its newspapers and laying off staff.
The recently announced layoff of 10% of the staff at The Florida Times-Union comes just one month after the paper said it was going to outsource its printing operations to sister newspapers in Gainesville (Monday through Saturday) and Daytona (Sunday edition). The newspaper’s press room is expected to shut down in February, resulting in the loss of 50 local jobs.
Commenting on the layoffs and outsourcing of work, Nusbaum said, “But our presses are obviously getting older, and to upgrade them or replace them would require a very, very substantial investment. For that reason, it makes financial sense for us to move in a different direction.”
As a result of the layoffs, there is little need for the company to stay in its current headquarters. The newspaper’s remaining departments are expected to move into new offices by the fourth quarter of 2018.
Thanks to declining sales, the newspaper is looking to aggressively expand its digital space while still meeting the needs of its print readers. The newspaper has a daily circulation of 45,000 and a Sunday circulation of 70,000. Jacksonville.com, The Florida Times-Union’s digital site, has daily pageviews of about 380,000 and 1.9 million unique monthly visitors.
“Times-Union announces additional layoffs,” The Florida Times-Union, January 18, 2018.
“Number of readers of the Florida Times-Union (JA) in the United States from spring 2008 to spring 2017 (in millions),” Statista, last accessed January 19, 2018.
“Florida Times-Union cuts newsroom staff, blames plunge in print revenue,” Florida Politics, January 18, 2018.
“Morris Communications Announces Sale Of Newspaper Publications To Gatehouse Media,” Morris Communications Comopany, LLC, August 9, 2017.
“Updated: Times-Union part of $120 million sale of Morris newspapers,” Jax Daily Record, August 10, 2017
“Times-Union to outsource printing operations,” The Florida Times-Union, December 13, 2017.