Last Summer the good news was that Gannett/Gatehouse was unloading the local weeklies they had accumulated back into the hands of local owners.
This year sees a new approach to local weeklies:
Starting in early May, at least 19 weekly newspapers across Massachusetts will shutter their print publications and go completely digital. Nine other weeklies will be merged into four papers.
According to notices posted on the papers’ websites, this decision “reaffirms” the commitment to the “sustainable future of local news.” The papers are all owned by Gannett, the largest newspaper chain in the country whose headlining newspaper is USA Today.
Local newspapers aren’t dying. They’re dead.
The Newton Tab, Needham Times and Watertown Tab & Press will stop publishing in May, their parent company Gannett quietly announced yesterday.
Gannett announced the decision in separate online announcements on each of its respective Wicked Local website, saying they would continue in online form only.
Ironically the announcements are behind paywalls (and, at least yesterday, not in the printed Newton Tab) so print-only readers may never know what happened.
1000 miles west of Massachusetts is another plan in action.
Gannett has taken the trend of outsourced print production to new lengths, announcing Monday that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its 10 other Wisconsin dailies will be printed at the Peoria Journal Star beginning in May.
Peoria is 220 miles and three-and-a-half hours from Milwaukee. Other papers in the Wisconsin group, including the Green Bay Press-Gazette, are even further north.
The move will result in the shuttering of the Journal Sentinel’s printing plant and the loss of 180 jobs.
The change will also push back deadlines, eliminating next-day coverage of night or early evening sports — no small thing in Milwaukee where the Bucks are NBA champions, the Packers are perennial contenders and the Brewers are having a run of good seasons.
“As our business becomes increasingly digital…”
But Gannett is having problems there too, as targeted ads placed with the company are not appearing where they should or are appearing next to stories the advertisers don’t want to be associated with.
As the publisher of USA TODAY and hundreds of local media sites across 46 states, Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI) has a compelling proposition for advertisers — broad reach, big audiences and the ability to reach both general and targeted consumers. However, that value proposition and trust in the news organization was shaken this week when The Wall Street Journal’s Patience Haggin reported that Gannett had misinformed clients of its ad exchanges during a nine-month period.
They confirmed that the digital ads placed with Gannett’s ad auction system, including for its flagship USA TODAY Network, weren’t always appearing where and under the express conditions the advertiser had been promised based on their bid-request data.