Reported today on The Seattle Times
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GateHouse, Gannett join, become largest US newspaper chain
NEW YORK (AP) – GateHouse closed its $1.1 billion takeover of USA Today publisher Gannett, becoming the country’s largest newspaper company by far and pledging significant cost cuts at a time when print publications are in precipitous decline.
The merger brings together about 260 daily papers, including the Arizona Republic, the Providence Journal and the Austin American-Statesman, as well as hundreds of weeklies.
In an interview with The Associated Press, executives of the combined company, which will keep the Gannett name, acknowledged there will be layoffs – the company has committed to cutting $300 million in annual costs.
Current Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert said front-line reporters are “the last place we want to touch” when it comes to job cuts. He cited “duplication of management” and potential excess costs in financial, printing and advertising divisions as opportunities to reduce costs, and said the company will further centralize editing and newspaper and web design functions.
Mike Reed, the media veteran who leads GateHouse’s parent company, will be CEO of the newly combined company. Bascobert, who has a background in e-commerce as well as media, will now serve as chief executive of the new company’s operating subsidiary.
“We believe we have a strategy that will result in …not just preserving local journalism, but letting local journalism thrive,” Reed said. “National journalism as well. And fortunately, we’re going to be able to impact at least 260 communities.”
The company expects growth in digital operations even as print advertising declines and traditional online ads continue to be dominated by Facebook and Google. The executives envision a revitalization of the classified advertis