Gannett, Fox News take steps to empty offices

Entertainment
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NEW YORK (AP) — The head of Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, on Thursday urged employees able to telecommute to “refrain from coming into the office unless absolutely necessary” because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Gannett and Fox News were the latest media companies to issue directives to workers designed to minimize transmission of the disease, both focusing on reducing the number of people in offices.

Paul Bascobert, president and CEO of Gannett, said in a memo to staff that no guests should be allowed in company offices. With its merger last year with GateHouse Media, Gannett now owns some 260 daily newspapers, including USA Today, the Arizona Republic and Providence Journal, and hundreds of weekly newspapers.

“For those working in the office, we would ask that you try to create space from co-workers, avoid direct contact whenever possible and continue with the previously advised hand washing and sanitizing regimens,” Bascobert wrote.

For most people, coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, but older adults and those with existing health problems are more susceptible to severe illness. The vast majority of people recover in about two weeks.

In a separate memo to her staff, Maribel Perez Wadsworth, news president and publisher of USA Today, said remote work should be the default for all employees who can do so from March 16 through April 5.

In addition to allowing any staff members able to telecommute to do so starting on Monday, Fox said it was encouraging its shows to book guest appearances via Skype or remote locations.

Staff members were told to avoid large gatherings and, whenever possible, conduct business by phone or video conferencing. Earlier in the week, Fox banned all non-essential travel, according to a memo sent by Fox News Media CEO Suzanne Scott and Jay Wallace, president and executive editor of Fox News Media.

Two Fox News shows that sometimes featured live audiences, “Fox & Friends” and “The Greg Gutfeld Show,” will no longer do so, the news leaders said.

“Our goal is to limit personal interaction, reduce the chance of exposure wherever possible and maintain the health and safety of those employees who are unable to telecommute,” Scott and Wallace said.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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