Hundreds of journalists at 14 Gannett-owned newspapers — mostly in New Jersey and New York — are striking Friday over what their unions say have been an unreasonable series of cuts to staff, salaries and benefits.

Gannett ceased printing Saturday editions entirely at about half of its papers earlier this year, so it will have a limited impact on production of some actual newspapers. The Bergen Record — one of the state’s largest papers — is among those that don't have a Saturday edition.

Audiences of the papers may see significantly cut-back coverage on those newspapers' websites Friday, however. Multiple union representatives said the date was chosen because it’s a big day for local sports, but some journalists would continue providing coverage through a “strike paper” online.

Wen Zhuang, a spokesperson for NewsGuild of New York, estimated about 250 to 300 journalists across the 14 papers had walked out of work on Friday. She said some newsrooms had between 60% and 85% participation in the strike. Gannett employed about 4,800 journalists at the end of last year, according to multiple reports.

Gannett’s corporate office said in a statement it would not “cease delivering trusted news to our loyal readers,” and would continue negotiating with its unions in good faith.

In New Jersey, the affected papers are the Asbury Park Press; the Courier News and Home News Tribune, which serve Central Jersey and share a single staff; The Bergen Record; The Daily Record in Morris County and the New Jersey Herald in Sussex County.

In New York, the affected papers include the Journal News in the Lower Hudson Valley; the Poughkeepsie Journal; the Times Herald-Record in Middletown; the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle; the Utica Observer-Dispatch and the Times Telegram in the Mohawk Valley.

Gannett laid off about 400 employees, or roughly 3% of its workforce, this year after the company posted a $54 million loss in the second quarter. The company also suspended its 401(k) matches, mandated five-day furloughs for this December and gave employees the choice between a shorter workweek or a sabbatical when it instituted a 20% pay cut.

The company’s latest earnings report shows another $54 million loss in the third quarter, and CEO Mike Reed has said he doesn’t expect revenue to recover until 2024, according to Poynter.

Kaitlyn Kanzler — unit chair for the Record Guild and a reporter covering Bergen and Passaic counties — said Gannett management hasn’t negotiated in good faith about an economic proposal the union proposed. She said Gannett employees are underpaid — and that when she first joined the company as a reporter for a weekly paper associated with The Bergen Record in 2015, she was personally making only $24,000 a year.

Other reporters, she said, often make only a little above $30,000.

“The people that work for Gannett are paid poverty wages, and some need to use the food banks that they write about, which is awful,” she said.

She wouldn’t describe the details of the union proposal, but said it would be “looking to give a significant bump to reporters.”

Mike Davis — an Asbury Park Press reporter and first chair of the APP-MCJ Guild that also includes Central Jersey staffs — said Gannett’s cuts compromise its journalism at a time when there are few reporters watching most communities.

“And the way you get good journalists is by making their jobs worth it, by paying them what they deserve,” he said.

Davis said he’s personally survived several rounds of layoffs since joining the company in 2015 — “and there is just generational trauma with the people who work here.”

Several Gannett papers in the area unionized in 2021, a move Nieman Reports describes as part of a trend that's been growing in the news media industry since journalists at Gawker Media unionized in 2015. It said while unionization once seemed out of reach or unusual for newsrooms, demonstrated successes in negotiating contracts have shifted attitudes about organizing. Journalists working in isolated, remote environments in the pandemic have also been eager to organize, to secure the right to work from home long-term or to address their work-life balance, the report said.

Also taking part in Friday’s walkout were journalists at The Arizona Republic, The Desert Sun in California and the digital optimization team for the company’s Atlantic region. Bargaining units from some other papers that didn’t take part in the strike were still showing support with other actions, including in Texas, Michigan and Ohio, Zhuang said.

This article has been updated to correct a description of which Gannett New Jersey newspapers share staffs.