(New York) Several hundred journalists and employees of the first group of the American regional press, Gannett, are on strike Monday to demand a reinvestment in the coverage “decimated” of local information and the departure of the boss of the company in trouble.

At the call of the NewsGuild-CWA press union, “more than 1,000 employees […] from some 20 newsrooms from California to New York” are protesting Monday and, for some possibly Tuesday, according to a press release. trade union organizations.

Gannett’s beachhead is the USA Today newspaper network.

The group, which also controls The Palm Beach Post in Florida or The Arizona Republic, was bought in November 2019 for around 1.2 billion dollars by New Media Investment Group (also called GateHouse Media), to form a behemoth of more than 250 local posts.

But since that merger, “newsrooms have been emptied, local news coverage has been curtailed, and Gannett’s stock price has fallen nearly 70%, far more than competitors like the New York.” Times and Lee Enterprises,” thundered NewsGuild-CWA.

Professional organizations denounce the “mismanagement” of Gannett CEO Mike Reed, who has “demoralized newsrooms, making it impossible for reporters to take advantage of resources to produce quality journalism”.

Mr. Reed is also accused of having “decimated local news coverage across the country and cut journalists’ salaries and benefits.”

The latter have since Friday asked the shareholders gathered Monday at the headquarters of Gannett in Virginia, a suburb of the capital Washington, to vote no confidence against Mr. Reed.

“Under Mike Reed, Gannett became radioactive for investors. Reed doesn’t care about a long-term strategy for the investment business in (its) reporters,” NewsGuild-CWA President Jon Schleuss protested in a statement Friday.

But “despite lockdowns in some of our markets, there will be no disruption and we will continue to provide trustworthy information to our loyal readers,” a spokesperson for AFP wrote in an email to AFP. Gannett.

While the group has cut its publications payroll by 20%, according to the unions, management intends to “preserve journalism and […] provide (its) valuable employees with fair and equitable wages and benefits”.

Once thriving and extremely diverse, the regional and local daily press in the United States has suffered terribly from successive crises, in particular because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsrooms in this country, very committed to the freedoms of the press and expression, lost some 30,000 journalists between 2008 and 2020 (from 114,000 to 85,000 people) according to a study by the Pew Research Center in 2021.