Betty Winston Bayé, the only African American columnist and editorial writer at the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Ky., was among about 700 employees laid off by the Gannett Co. on Tuesday as the nation’s largest newspaper company cut back “to align our costs with the current revenue trends.”

Bayé, 65, had been with Gannett since 1980 and the Courier-Journal since 1984. A native New Yorker, she had worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, known as SNCC, and in the theater before settling on a journalism career at age 35.

“I am blessed, and I just told one of my young proteges, you just realize that no matter what happens, the work you do is important,” Bayé told Journal-isms. “I had a long run to say what I wanted to say, and it is what it is.” She was not given time to write a farewell column.

In a “confidential” memo to members of Gannett’s U.S. Community Publishing Division, republished on the independent Gannett Blog, Bob Dickey, president of the division, said:

“National advertising remains soft and with many of our local advertisers reducing their overall budgets, we need to take further steps to align our costs with the current revenue trends. Each of our local media organizations faces its own market conditions, challenges and opportunities. Therefore, it has been up to each local publisher to determine his or her unique course of action.

“While we have sought many ways to reduce costs, I regret to tell you that we will not be able to avoid layoffs. Accordingly, approximately 700 employees within USCP, or about 2% of our company’s overall workforce, will be let go. Publishers will notify people today and we will make every effort to reach everyone by end of day.”

Jim Hopkins, publisher and editor of the independent Gannett Blog, wrote, “Today’s disclosure of 700 newspaper layoffs is the single largest round since July 2009, when the U.S. newspaper division eliminated about 1,400 jobs, mostly through layoffs. This is the fourth mass layoff since August 2008.”

He also pointed out that Dickey was paid $3.4 million last year, linking to Gannett’s filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A spreadsheet the blog published listed the largest number of job cuts at Indianapolis, with 62; Phoenix, 40; Louisville, 36; Nashville, 34; Springfield, Mo., 30; and Monroe, La., 27; although not all of those cuts were in the newsroom.

Also affected was Aaron Morrison, the only African American reporter at the Daily Record in Parsippany, N.J. He said a Latina reporter, whom he believed to be the only reporter there fluent in Spanish, was also given walking papers.

Morrison, who turned 26 last month, would have been at the paper for a year next month.

“I would like to continue building my experience as a multi-platform, multimedia reporter and writer,” he said by email.

“As of late, I’ve been interested in a mixture of public policy, municipal politics, sustainability and food economics. I might toss in a business story or two on merits. Whatever I do next, it’ll have to require frequent detaching of my behind from an office chair and meeting the people or entity I’m producing content about. That’s not to say I haven’t always done that, but I enjoy that part of what I do too much to give it up voluntarily. Print, online, broadcast; the type [of] medium is not as important for me.”

Bayé said another African American reporter at the Courier-Journal was also laid off.

“There had been rumors,” she said, when asked how she received the news. Bayé and a friend decided not to go far for lunch. She had taken one bite out of her chicken tarragon salad when she received a call from the human resources department. After the 10-minute talk, her ability to enter the building was deactivated, and she was carrying her belongings to her car in the rain.

“It was like a bloodbath today,” she said. Still, Bayé said, “in some ways, I feel lighter” because much of her time is free for other pursuits.

After all, she continued, “My mother always said it’s a poor rat that’s got just one hole.”