Media people in the Jacksonville market continue to be queued up for unscheduled and unwanted vacations.
The latest hit came Monday for employees of Tegna, the parent company of the First Coast News operation familiar to viewers of the Northeast Florida NBC and ABC affiliates.
As first reported by Emily Bloch of the Florida Times-Union, the furloughs will be spaced out between April 20 and June 26.
On-air talent gets an unpaid week off. News directors take an 8% haircut for the period, news directors and station heads of technology would receive an 8 percent temporary pay reduction, with GMs and SVPs taking a 20 percent pay cut. The C-suite will see its pay cut by 25%.
A spox for Tegna told Bloch furloughs were “a temporary, cost saving measure during the months of April, May and June.”
Bloch, subject to her own week-long furlough later in the spring as a Gannett employee, noted in a tweet the cumulative impact of these moves affecting her and her colleagues.
“Jacksonville is quickly becoming a news desert at this rate,” Bloch noted, citing cuts from the corporate media titans, as well as continued attrition at the local alternative weekly (which, for now at least, is a monthly).
Worth noting: despite different corporate parents, First Coast News and the Florida Times-Union are what they call “media partners,” with cross-pollenation between the TV operation and the print operation.
The T-U, noted currently furloughed reporter Andrew Pantazi, is facing its own challenges this week.
“Today,” Pantazi tweeted Monday, “Gannett has begun illegal furloughs in Jacksonville. I’m on furlough all week. It’s devastating to not write about COVID-19 as it hits communities and people I love. This weekend, my uncle was intubated.”
Pantazi noted, regarding the cuts, that “we need our colleagues at @FCN2go to be working so we can stay informed. These furloughs, like those at @jaxdotcom , will hurt Jacksonville. This is why we need a local news stimulus.”
Freelancers, never at the top of the list of considerations in good times, are especially suffering in the down economy.
With the alt.weekly going monthly and the Times-Union curtailing freelance arrangements, some writers will see their careers at least temporarily abridged.