Gannett puts the brakes on its drive to cut back on print

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By Dan Kennedy

It looks like executives at Gannett have decided they were going too far in cutting back on print. The country’s largest newspaper chain has been eliminating print days at its dailies and killing off or merging print weeklies. Here, for example, is Kevin Graeler, managing editor of the Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri, which had been scheduled to drop from seven days to just three:

Under a national decision by Gannett, which owns the Tribune and more than 200 other newspapers across the USA Today Network, all changes to the number of print editions published per week are being paused while the company analyzes new data and takes into consideration valuable input from our subscribers.

Of course, the real problem isn’t the lack of print — it’s the lack of coverage. In Massachusetts, Gannett announced in February it was moving nearly all of the local staff reporters at its community weeklies to regional beats. So much for coverage of the city council, mayor, select board and school committee. A month later, the chain told readers that it was closing 19 weeklies and merging nine others into four.

This doesn’t take place in a vacuum. For years, people have been starting independent news organizations in response to cutbacks by Gannett and its predecessor company, GateHouse Media. And just recently, new local news ventures have either been launched or announced in Marblehead, Concord and Newton. More to come, I’m sure.

You can find a complete list of independent local news outlets in Massachusetts in the upper right-hand corner of this page. Just look for “Mass. Indy News.”

Author: Dan Kennedy

I am a professor of journalism at Northeastern University and a contributor to GBH News in Boston. My blog, Media Nation, is online at dankennedy.net.

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