The end of summer usually indicates the start of something. For students, it's the start of a new school year. For coffee drinkers, it's the start of Pumpkin Spice Latte. For Halloween lovers, it's the start of their favorite holiday.
For me, the end of summer came with two big announcements: GateHouse Media and Gannett were going to merge and become the largest U.S. newspaper company, and E&P was going to be sold to media consultant Mike Blinder. How are these two related? Well, keep reading.
Let's start with GateHouse and Gannett. We've heard murmurs about the deal for awhile now, but it was in early August when news broke that the two companies had agreed to merge. The combined company plans to take on the Gannett name, and together will have a print of circulation of 8.7 million, according to media analyst Ken Doctor.
In his Newsonomics column for Nieman Lab, Doctor said there were certain synergies for this sort of deal, including vendor savings, corporate and shared services, combining ad and digital marketing services, and editorial consolidation. We're already seeing some of those changes trickle in. Shortly after the merger was announced, MediaPost reported that GateHouse had let go of more than two dozen newsroom employees from at least 10 newspapers. Some of those newsrooms included the Oklahoman, Palm Beach Post, Cape Cod Times and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. Then, in September, GateHouse closed two Arkansas publications, the Helena-West Helena World and the Stuttgart Daily Leader.
Also in September, one of Gannett's largest newspapers, the Arizona Republic, launched a unionization effort, "(signaling) a broader effort to unionize papers before the deal to combine the two chains is completed," wrote Jonathan O'Connell of the Washington Post.
"Gannett and GateHouse are under intense pressure by investors to find an estimated $300 million in annual cost savings as part of the $1.4 billion deal," he wrote. "That has prompted concerns among staff at the two companies' more than 250 daily newspapers and hundreds of weekly
and community papers ..."
And O'Connell is right--they should...