Gannett and Gatehouse shareholders have signed off on a merger.
The combined company, which will carry the Gannett name will control a large chunk of the print media market in Delaware.
Gannett owns the News Journal and Daily Times in Salisbury, MD with Gatehouse running several weekly papers in the state’s three counties.
Not that long ago, the merger would have violated antitrust laws. But in the current environment, it amounts to a combination of niche players in an increasingly digital world.
Both companies have made extensive job cuts over the years, with Gatehouse operating skeleton staffs at its weeklies. Gannett’s staff roster has also shrunk dramatically.
The reason for the merger is the ability to employ that overused word “synergies” a euphemism for job cuts. The party line from Gannett is that the bulk of the cuts will take place when the corporate functions of the two companies are combined.
Newspaper industry analyst Ken Doctor says the Gannett cuts will go deeper and affect newsgathering.
Cuts may focus the photo-video side, which now accounts for a sizable percentage of news employment at larger Gannett papers. Gannett has been working to bolster its digital presence, with video content a part of that strategy. Gatehouse has taken a more bare-bones approach
The combined companies have already axed many higher-paid workers but could force departures of some higher-paid staffers who have survived the waves of cuts.
With both companies reporting poor results in recent quarters, Doctor says the pressure is on to make cuts immediately.
This is bad news, even for people who do not care for the editorial stance of Gannett papers.
Communities that no longer have regular coverage of local government are more prone to raise taxes and take on debt, according to a 2018 report
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