Gannett’s Dubow Taking Medical Leave Again

Gannett (NYSE: GCI) Chairman and CEO Craig Dubow is once again taking medical leave, the company said in a short, late afternoon press release. There were no details about Dubow’s condition or how long he would be out. As she did in June 2009, when Dubow first took medical leave related to back surgery, Gracia C. Martore, president and COO, is in charge, at least for the interim.

At the time of Dubow’s last leave of absence, rumors of massive layoffs began circulating. So far, there have been no indications of any layoffs, though the company has once again has been struggling with a weak economy that has dragged down profits and revenues.

One of Dubow’s main areas of concentration has been to change the perception of Gannett from being viewed as a traditional media company, with 80 local newspapers — and separately, it’s national flagship, USA Today — and 19 TV stations, to a “360” multimedia company that has content centered around digital devices in general and portable ones like the smartphones and tablets in particular.

The company has spent a lot of time building up its digital marketing businesses, such as its Gannett Local initiative, as well as existing properties like jobs site Careerbuilder and rich media provider PointRoll. In McLean, Va-based company’s Q2 earnings call two months ago, Dubow singled out new efforts, like discount shopping network Deal Chicken, for new investment.

In the meantime, there’s been very high hopes around USAT’s iPad app, which was initially planned as a pay-to-download option. But advertising has been in such strong demand, the company has instead kept it completely free to readers.

Still, there’s been not much enthusiasm for new efforts around its legacy newspaper business, which has primarily been in cost-cutting mode, as advertising dollars shrink industry-wide. The main support the newspaper have gotten generally have centered around digital efforts. Given that digital revenues rose 13 percent last quarter, while the total publishing segment fell 4.9 percent, as newsprint expenses increased 9.3 percent, it’s not surprising that the company is still looking for more ways to cut costs in that area. Release