In a memo announcing the move, Mr. Dubow wrote: "After much consideration, we decided a furlough program would be the fairest and least intrusive way to meet these fiscal challenges in the first quarter, which is traditionally the lightest time of the year. We sincerely hope this minimizes the need for any layoffs going forward."
The USA Today publisher in December said it expected to finish 2008 with revenue of $6.8 billion, down 8% from a year earlier.
Those losses have already resulted in significant layoffs at Gannett, which is hardly alone among struggling newspaper publishers, who at times seem to be engaging in gloomy one-upmanship with one another. Just last month, for instance, Los Angeles Times Publisher Tribune Co. sought bankruptcy protection.
While memos from Gannett executives said the furloughs were designed to avoid layoffs, they, of course, were unable to make any promises. "The goal is to reduce the need for layoffs, but that decision entirely rests on what happens with revenues during the rest of the year," a Q-and-A memo distributed to employees said. "No final decision has been or will be made at this time."