Washington City Paper: New Book Defines, and Takes Lessons From, the Modern Media Mogul

by ALEXA MILLS

There are no billionaire newspaper owners in Vermont. But the state’s most populous city, Burlington, has long been an outpost of Gannett Company, the largest American newspaper chain. The publisher of USA Today as well as more than a hundred other daily newspapers in thirty-four states, Gannett is the prototype for the sort of publicly traded corporation whose insatiable demand for profits led to drastic downsizing years before the current crisis took hold. As recently as 2008, many Gannett newspapers reported margins of 20, 30, and even 40 percent. But that was a long time ago. In 2015 the company earned just $149 million on revenues of $2.9 billion, or 5 percent. Both those figures were lower than they were in 2014. Gannett may be a behemoth, but, like all newspaper companies, it is a wounded behemoth.

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