Opinion: Gannett CEO’s Pay Cut Seems Overhyped

As Gannett gets ready to can thousands of employees, while at the same time reducing raises and increasing responsibilities for its remaining workers, the company’s CEO is expressing his “empathy” by cutting his own salary — from $7,500,000 to $7,300,000. Oh, and just for next year. Then it’ll bounce right back up.

Chief Executive Craig Dubow made the heroic announcement in an internal memo picked up by former Gannett veteran Jim Hopkins’ blog this week. “All Gannett employees are making deep sacrifices for their company,” Dubow writes. “I have great empathy for those employees and their families who have lost their jobs.”

Other execs are already heaping on the praise, Hopkins reports. “We commend Craig for his leadership in taking this step,” writes Gannett Presiding Director Karen Hastie Williams.

The memo emphasizes that Dubow’s rate cut is a whopping 17 percent. It is — if you factor in only his base salary of $1.2 million a year. But once you add in bonuses, stock awards and options, and deferred compensation interest earnings, he’s pulling in a cool $7.5 mil, Reuters notes. All added together, the now 3 percent drop seems slightly less significant. Though, to be fair, when you’re used to making $7,500,000, dropping down to $7,300,000 could be a big adjustment.

Gannett’s most recent cutbacks follow the elimination of about a thousand jobs back in August. The company saw an 18 percent drop in advertising revenue this past quarter compared to the same time last year. Its shares have also fallen more than 75 percent in the past year. Executives have indicated more layoffs could be on the way soon.

But hey, at least the people at the top are doing their part, too — right?