So the “big” announcement has been made. The “marriage of the century” between Gannett and GateHouse took place and the reception is taking place at newspapers across the country.
It’s been a forgone conclusion that this “merger” was going to take place for weeks. I’ve expected it for the past year.
Let’s face it. Gannett was out of choices. They cut their staffs, reduced pages and finally sold their buildings. It was sell or close. And who better to sell to than Gannett-Junior, er, GateHouse.
Two companies with similar business plans: Buy, cut, reduce, lose money, close, sell or merge. I wasn’t particularly interested in the same way I wasn’t overly-interested when rumor spread that Digital First Media might buy Gannett.
So, here’s what will happen. Mark it down. Place your bets. You’ll win.
All these papers will publish stories, written by corporate types, but with local names on them, explaining how great this is for the affected communities. Nothing will change. Better coverage, they’ll say. Combining resources to offer more, they’ll tell readers. And, whoah nellie, just imagine the digital advantages.
Here’s what will happen. Papers in close proximity will close … excuse me, merge. I feel for the folks in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 30 minutes west of Knoxville.
I just hope the folks in Oak Ridge enjoy USA Today. I’m sure they’ll offer them a bargain rate for the online version.
Am I angry? Nope.
The vast majority of newspapers don’t belong to GateHouse or Gannett, or any of the other groups that seem to make so many headlines.
The vast majority of papers are like the ones who have been calling me this week, like they have most weeks over the past 20 years, looking for ways to grow their papers.
Let’s face it, Gannett was done. Burnt. Toast. GateHouse has deeper pockets, not because they’re so good at running newspapers, but because they’re just not as far down the road as Gannett. Yet.
How many papers did GateHouse close in New England last month? Oh wait, my mistake. How many papers did GateHouse merge?
I just read that the Keene Sentinel, a family-owned daily in New Hampshire is looking for a new executive editor. That’s a strong paper, kind of like the Jackson Hole, Wyoming, newspaper I will be visiting soon, or the Jefferson City (Tennessee) Standard-Banner, just an hour from my hometown of Knoxville.
So it is at Gannett, GateHouse, GateNet, or whatever name the geniuses at corporate headquarters eventually come up with. My money is on “Tronc.” Wait, no. That’s taken.
Thankfully, I’m breathing just fine and looking forward to seeing hundreds of my friends over the coming weeks at newspapers in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Texas and other place I’ve temporarily forgotten.