Free Press editor: How our journalists are affected by advertising losses due to COVID-19

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Dear Reader,

We know you are relying on us to report news that will help you navigate the coronavirus. The nature of our work exempts us from the governor’s stay-at-home orders, but our industry is still subject to the financial harm inflicted by this pandemic.

Gannett, the owner of the Free Press and about 260 daily local news properties, told staff on Monday that the company would require furloughs to remedy a drop in advertising revenue as small businesses pause their operations. 

SIMILAR: How Gannett is supporting Vermont small businesses during the coronavirus

Other Vermont media organizations are also making difficult decisions to address their financial loses. The Rutland Herald and Times Argus furloughed 20 employees across the two newsrooms last month. Seven Days laid off seven. VTDigger laid off three. The Waterbury Record closed

What does this furlough mean for Free Press journalists?

The company has asked me to organize unpaid time off for all Free Press journalists, including myself, above a certain salary threshold. 

This temporary reduction in staffing is planned for three months and will reduce participating employees’ time at work and salaries by 25%. Employees will remain on the company’s health insurance throughout.

Gannett executives will take an equivalent pay reduction, and the company’s CEO Paul Bascobert will forego his salary for the duration of this action.

What does this mean for you?

We plan to stagger our furloughs (which will amount to the Free Press operating with two to three fewer journalists for the three-month period) to reduce the impact on your news. 

Each member of our news team contributes a great deal to our daily report, so we will be able to produce fewer stories on a given day. Still, we are committed to discerning on a daily basis what we can do to best serve our community. 

The furloughs will not impact the daily publication of news online and in print (though the newspaper’s home delivery time will run later than usual for the duration of the stay-at-home order). They will not impact our morning Facebook Live broadcast. And they will not diminish our commitment to transparency and accuracy.

In your service,

Emilie

Contact Emilie Stigliani at 802-660-1897 or estigliani@freepressmedia.com. Follow on Twitter: @EmilieStigliani.

All coverage of the coronavirus is being provided for free to our readers. Thank you to our subscribers. If you are not a subscriber, please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Free Press. 

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