The needler in the haystack.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Gannett leaves newspapers to fend for themselves


Gannett's bold new web graphic reminded me of the
classic Western movie line: 'First thing we do is
pull all the wagons into a circle.'

The Courier News, once a Plainfield-based regional newspaper, has been spun off with other Gannett newspapers into a standalone corporation
.

As of Monday, the Gannett Corporation's highly profitable TV stations and the websites Cars.com and Careerbuilder.com were handed off to a new entity named TEGNA (an anagram of sorts on Gannett), while the 92 newspapers ihroughout the US were given their walking papers as a "new" Gannett.

The news was broken by the Gannett newspapers across the county in chirpy stories on Monday, all reiterating hopeful-sounding talking points -- see the Courier's example here, and other Gannett papers like USAToday (here) and the Detroit Free Press (here).

The take on the split by other media was far less sanguine.

Poynter, the nonprofit media website, opines this is a throwback to an older Gannett strategy of the 1970s-90s: Buy up everything in sight andhope for a profit. (See Poynter's analysis here.)

In brief, Poynter gives the "new" Gannett points for having already moved its staff and newsrooms toward a digital-centric media experience (hence mycentraljersey,com) and considers having USAToday as a feeder for US and world news to the local papers  plus.

On the down side, Poynter notes that print advertising profits are a bummer, and will continue to be so.

Barron's, the business newspaper and website, sees a great upside for TEGNA, but less so for the Gannett newspapers, though it does note they are starting out debt-free.

Barron's quotes Gannett's new CEO, Bob Dickey, as saying "all of our attention is to be a digital company; the print platform will be there for some time to come, but it is not the future".

Meanwhile, with newsrooms whittle down to skeleton crews, and excellent reporters like the Courier's Sergio Bichao and Mike Deak stretched thin, in-depth, constant coverage of local news goes the way of the dinosaurs as Turnpike crashes, shootings and fires crowd out Page One.

It's a brave new world.


  -- Dan Damon [follow]


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