Gannett Expands Presence Across US with Purchase of Journal Media Group

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The owner of USA Today and a large chain of newspapers across the country has purchased the Journal Media Group, whose newspapers include the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Knoxville News-Sentinel. The $280 million purchase expands McLean, VA-based Gannett Company from 92 markets to 106 markets and gives Journal Media shareholders about $12 per share.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been in print for 178 years. The deal also means Gannett will own the majority of the major newspapers in the state of Tennessee, with the company currently owning the Nashville Tennesseean. 

In Poynter's coverage of the deal, Rick Edmonds argues that newspaper consolidation will continue, prompted by the need for large digital ad audiences and new markets to penetrate. As a result of the merger, "Markets like Milwaukee, Memphis, Knoxville and Naples can expect to see additional USA Today content in their papers and websites soon." 

Edmonds also predicts the deal will eventually result in staff cuts, as has happened with other newsrooms acquired by Gannett. He adds, "But Gannett also maintains a stated commitment to watchdog and investigative journalism — often with pooled local reporting — and would be smart to draw on the Journal-Sentinel’s expertise in that area."

Meanwhile, at Milwaukee Magazine, Erik Gunn writes that the sale was a surprise to the majority of the staff at the Journal Sentinel. An anonymous newsroom "insider" is quoted: "People are horrified." Gunn leans heavily on former Gannett reporter and media watchdog Jim Hopkins as a source. Hopkins, who had run a blog covering Gannett's practices for six years, says the newspaper will have local news "wrapped around a truncated version of USA Today." 

Gunn writes the deal means "employees of Gannett papers in the state can expect fewer jobs" as a result of more content-sharing across the network.

Newspapers owned by Journal Media Group include, but aren't limited to:

  • The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Wisconsin)
  • The Ventura County Star (California)
  • The Naples Daily News (Florida)
  • The Treasure Coasts Newspapers (Florida)
  • The Evansville Courier & Press (Indiana)
  • The Gleaner (Kentucky)
  • The Anderson Independent-Mail (South Carolina)
  • The Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)
  • The Commercial Appeal (Tennessee)
  • The Corpus Christi-Caller (Texas)
  • The San Angelo Standard-Times (Texas)
  • The Kitsap Sun (Washington)

JMG also has large presence in other parts of Wisconsin and Florida through its Community Publishing Group. The company used to own several television stations (with most since spun off to the EW Scripps Company) and radio stations. 

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