Gannett, America’s largest newspaper chain, should wake up each morning thankful for the existence of No. 2 Alden Global Capital.
It’s the type of company that inspires debates over whether “vulturous” is too kind of an adjective. If you’re writing an Atlantic cover story on “Who Killed America’s Newspapers?” Alden Global Capital will hand you the murder weapon, already dusted for prints.
Gannett, meanwhile, is at least a newspaper company, one more than a century old. It’s rarely been considered a particularly good one, mind you…
By December 31, 2019, the combined company was down to 21,255 employees in the U.S. By the end of 2020, that had dropped to 18,141. A year later: 13,800. And its most recent SEC filing reports that, as of the end of 2022, Gannett had just 11,200 U.S. employees remaining
MediaPost reports Gannett disagrees with some of the circulation figures in the NiemanLab article:
After the article appeared, Gannett responded, “A recent Nieman Lab article utilizes Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) data to inaccurately depict Gannett’s circulation and subscriber figures. We have requested a correction.
Benton added this to the article: “A mea culpa. I originally referred in this section to ‘paying readers’ and ‘paid readership’ when quoting the circulation numbers Gannett (and other companies) file with the Alliance for Audited Media…
Gannett did not dispute the employment figures.
Brier Dudley at The Seattle Times sees a glimmer of hope in the Gannett report:
Those concerned about saving local journalism should note another revelation in Gannett’s report, one suggesting that there’s an opportunity for communities to restore their local newspaper.
During its Feb. 23 earnings call, CEO Michael Reed said the company is open to selling off local papers, if buyers step forward with a reasonable offer.
Reed’s comments suggest there are many more opportunities to salvage and rebuild Gannett cast-offs.
Maybe I’m overly optimistic about these papers’ potential and the number of communities that could find investors, syndicates or even charitable organizations to give them a fresh start.
But I believe there’s still a demand and need for these local papers…
Though another independent newspaper died, expanding the news desert.
Thursday arrived as usual in the Texas Panhandle. But a new edition of The Canadian Record, this gritty town’s definitive source of local news for more than 130 years, did not come with it.
The green flag that told the townspeople that there was a new edition of the newspaper, usually 28 pages long and full of the words and photos of their neighbors and their neighbors’ kids, did not fly outside the weekly’s Main Street office.
The end of The Record’s print edition — even if temporary as Brown continues the search for a potential successor — offers a fresh reminder of how perilous the news business is for most local publishers and the communities they are part of.
Hemphill County will join a growing list of Texas counties without a newspaper if The Record ultimately stops publishing.
At least 27 counties — all of them rural — have no paper, according to a national study on the state of local news from the Local News Initiative at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. What replaces them, research has found, is a mix of misinformation, higher taxes, greater political polarization and lower voter turnout.
Feature image from Wiley Miller’s Non Sequitur