At numerous points in a definitive proxy statement filed March 22 by Gannett, it was mentioned that CEO Gracia Martore had voluntarily given up 10 percent of her salary, opting to take one for the team and receive only $900,000 instead of $1 million.
The sacrifice, however, was just a drop in the bucket since the SEC filing indicates Ms. Martore's pay package amounted to more than $8.4 million.
And while she has been at the helm during a time when thousands have lost their jobs due to her decisions and all Gannett employees have had to take one or two weeks of unpaid furloughs per year, if Ms. Martore ever loses her job because of a change in ownership, she will receive a termination package totaling more than $46 million.
I would guess that Ms. Martore's $100,000 sacrifice was probably not appreciated much by those who have lost their jobs or had to take those frequent furloughs under Ms. Martore's stewardship.
The SEC filing shows Gannett, owner of the Springfield News-Leader in my area, as well as USA Today and dozens of community newspapers, provided Ms. Martore with a pay package totaling $8,453,598, close to $4 million more than the $4,693,809 she received in 2011.
The amount included a $1.6 million bonus, $2,929,316 in stock awards, $2,924,307, listed as "change in pension value, and nonqualified deferred compensation earnings," as well as $117,283 in "other compensation."
The other compensation, according to the filing, included a $31,340 life insurance premium, $7,500 for her 401K plan, premiums for supplemental medical coverage, a company-provided automobile, occasional personal use of company aircraft, legal and financial services, and a $15,000 contribution to a charity of Ms. Martore's choice.
As someone who spent more than two decades as a newspaper reporter and editor, topping out at $26,000 a year as managing editor of a small southwest Missouri daily, you might think I would be happy to see that so much money is being spent by a newspaper company, especially at a time when newspapers are widely considered to be a dying breed.
Unfortunately, this is is not good news. During the time in which Ms. Martore's compensation increased by nearly $4 million, Gannett reduced the number of people employed in its newspaper division by 2,800.
While those 2,800 people were sent back into job search mode under Ms. Martore's reign, usually with a meager severance package, she will have no such worries if the day ever comes when she and Gannett part ways.
The definitive proxy statement indicates she will receive a termination package totaling more than $20 million. If something unfortunate should happen and Ms. Martore dies, her family will receive almost $30 million and Ms. Martore would receive about the same amount if for some reason she becomes disabled.
And as noted above, if the company changes hands and she loses her job, she gets $46 million, including a pension worth $17,745,638 and $7,650,000 in severance pay.
Of course, readers of Gannett newspapers can rejoice since obviously this concentration of wealth in the hands of Ms. Martore and her fellow executives has resulted in dramatically improved products that benefit the communities in which they operate.
Contrary to popular opinion, it isn't the internet that has killed newspapers; it is greed.