Axios Returns Taxpayer Bailout… Gannett Layoffs Continue… Google Hides Its Pain Well

Online news site Axios returning $4.8 mln U.S. payroll loan

WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) – Online news site Axios said on Tuesday it was returning a $4.8 million U.S. loan amid a public backlash over some companies taking assistance from the program created by Congress in March.

 

Gannett layoffs continue as photographers complain they lack coronavirus protection

USA Today parent Gannett has been laying off journalists across many of its 241 newspapers in recent days as photographers complain that they’re not being protected from the coronavirus.

It’s the second round of cuts since the nation’s largest newspaper chain announced on March 30 it would be slashing executive pay and instituting one week of furloughs a month through June for staffers making more than $38,000 a year.

Locally, at least seven editorial staffers were laid off at The Record in northern NJ, according to sources. Among them, according to an insider, was a woman who is nine months pregnant and a staffer who’s been out on disability

“They fired her anyway and now she doesn’t have a job when her disability ends,” said the insider.

Meanwhile, photographers at The Record, which serves the densely populated Bergen, Essex, Hudson and Passaic counties, have complained about not receiving the personal protection equipment promised by Gannett’s headquarters in McLean, Va., according to a recording of a recent conference call between Dan Sforza, executive editor of The Record and Northjersey.com.

Google Hides Its Pain Well
Growth in first quarter obscures what is likely internet giant’s toughest year ahead

Google’s latest results are but a taste of what lies ahead for the internet giant. It isn’t a pretty picture.

On Tuesday afternoon, parent company Alphabet Inc. reported that first-quarter revenue rose 13% year over year to $41.2 billion. That marked the company’s slowest growth in nearly five years. Advertising revenue grew 10% to $33.8 billion—the slowest pace for the company’s core businesses since at least 2010. The company said Tuesday that advertising was “significantly impacted” in the final weeks of the quarter.

Revenue slightly exceeded Wall Street’s recently diminished expectations, pushing Alphabet’s shares up 7% following the report. But investors might be underestimating the pain that lies ahead. Google’s massive online-advertising business is heavily exposed to markets such as travel and small business—segments hit hard by the pandemic. Michael Levine of Pivotal Research Group estimates that half or more of Google’s advertising base comes from small-to-midsize businesses and that travel is the company’s largest vertical segment. He noted that he would be stunned if the latter didn’t take years to fully recover.

As a result, Mr. Levine and at least eight other analysts surveyed by FactSet are projecting a decline in Alphabet’s total revenue for 2020, which would be the company’s first annual drop on record. Wall Street’s current consensus forecast has revenue for the year growing 5% to about $170.3 billion, which still would be a record low in terms of growth. To varying extents, analysts seem to agree that this year will be Google’s toughest and that the full impact of the pandemic still isn’t understood.