For Immediate Release, Aug. 5, 2019
Contact: Sally Davidow
Aug. 5, 2019 – The NewsGuild-CWA is watching with concern the announced acquisition Monday of Gannett by New Media Investment Group, the owner of GateHouse Media.
In recent years, news company mergers have resulted in a degradation of news coverage and a reduction of jobs. Mergers like this one have resulted in the creation of news deserts and the reduction of coverage of high school sports, city council meetings, and the watchdog function news organizations play in American society.
In the face of the merger, The NewsGuild is renewing its commitment to fight for journalism that enables communities to hold local government and business accountable, that tells the stories of neighborhoods and unites the people. The NewsGuild is determined to save local news.
The new company, which will be called Gannett, combines the largest newspaper – USA Today – with the largest news chain – GateHouse. It will have national coverage and local penetration in 47 states. Executives expect $275-$300 million in “synergies” from the merger.
Unfortunately, the merger appears to replace one hedge fund with another. The deal will remove the Fortress Investment Group, owned by the Japanese investment company Softbank, in two years with a payoff in excess of $40 million. However, financing for the acquisition – $1.8 billion of debt from Apollo Global Management – may replace one hedge fund with another.
The NewsGuild-CWA has a total of 32 bargaining units at the two chains, representing nearly 1,500 workers. We will continue to analyze this deal to explore its financial viability, its impact on news coverage, and its effects on news workers.
Employees at the two companies expect to be part of the merger process.
Photo: Employees of the Detroit Free Press, a Gannett-owned paper, protested the potential takeover by Alden Global Capital on May 16.
The NewsGuild-CWA is the largest union of journalists and other communications professionals in the North America, representing more than 20,000 workers in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.