Mega newspaper publishers to merge

DOVER — Mega newspaper publishers Gannett and GateHouse Media plan to merge, the companies announced Monday. The deal will create the largest newspaper company in the country by far.

According to the Associated Press, the new company would own more than 260 daily papers in the United States, along with 300-plus weeklies. Axios reported the agreement means a single company would control about 16 percent of newspapers in the United States.

Gannett owns The News Journal/Delawareonline, while GateHouse’s Delaware publications include the Hockessin Community News, the Middletown Transcript, the Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times, the Dover Post, the Milford Beacon and Sussex Living.

Gannett’s other publications include USA Today, The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star and The Arizona Republic.
Although GateHouse’s parent company, New Media Investment Group, is buying Gannett, the company plans to keep the Gannett name. The deal is expected to close around the end of the year.

The companies said they expect to save $275 million to $300 million in annual costs within two years, based on the “increased scale of the new organization, sharing of best practices, leveraging existing infrastructure, facility rationalization and other judicious cost reductions.”

The agreement comes amid a time of turmoil for newspapers, with consolidation threatening local papers, digitalization raising questions about journalism’s long-term future and the industry shedding jobs. According to the Pew Research Center, newsroom employment fell from 114,000 to 86,000 from 2008 to 2018.

The merger totals about $1.4 billion. Gannett’s stock prices have shot up in recent days since reports of a merger began surfacing.

Gannett and GateHouse did not respond to requests for comment.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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