Gazette and radio stations cut back
Seven full-time Gazette employees and two at the radio stations learned in the last week that their positions were eliminated to cut costs. Earlier this year, the Gazette cut five full-time and several part-time positions.
Other positions vacated by attrition plus new hires in other areas bring the Gazette and the radio stations to 158 employees, down from 174 at the start of the year.
Bliss Communications owns and operates the newspaper and radio stations.
Company officials attributed the cuts to significant increases in operating costs such as fuel, utilities, newsprint and ink. They also said a slumping local economy has hurt advertising revenues.
Sidney H. “Skip” Bliss, owner and chief executive officer, said the Gazette is not alone. The national newspaper industry is challenged, and newspapers have been shifting resources and trimming expenses to remain competitive, he said.
Gannett Co., the nation’s largest newspaper publisher, said earlier this week that it will lay off 10 percent of its newspaper work force—an estimated 3,000 jobs nationwide—in the face of plummeting ad revenues. The reductions follow a 3 percent cut by Gannett announced in August.
Earlier this year, Bliss bought Community Shoppers, publisher of the Janesville Messenger and similar, twice-weekly community newspapers in Walworth County and the Beloit area.
In 2007, Bliss completed construction of a $22 million printing and distribution plant in Janesville.
“Both projects have strengthened our company by diversifying our revenue sources and product offerings and represent strategic investments in the future of this marketplace,” Bliss said. “Ideally, a strong economy would have followed, but I am confident that the investments we made will aid the local economy by ensuring that readers and advertisers are well served.
“Regardless, I regret that current economic conditions require us to make these adjustments.”
Starting Saturday, the Gazette office at 1 S. Parker Dr. will not be open Saturday mornings, although classified advertising staff will be available to take ads over the phone. In addition, the customer service department will close at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays.