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Gannett sets November 14 vote on sale to GateHouse

Merger would create a 10-newspaper block in New Jersey

By David Wildstein, October 01 2019 8:47 am

Gannett shareholders will vote on a proposed acquisition by GateHouse Media on November 14.

If the $1.34 billion offer is accepted, the new company will become the largest print newspaper chain in the U.S. by far.  The merger would create a media giant with more than 260 dailies and over 300 weeklies.

It is not immediately clear how many New Jersey reporters and newspaper staff will be affected by the sale, which will likely result in some layoffs and consolidation.

If the deal wins shareholder approval, the two chains would operate under the Gannett name.

It would also mean 15 of 17 New Jersey daily newspapers would be under the control of two national media chains.

Gannett currently operates The (Bergen) Record, the Herald News, the Daily Record, the Courier News, the Home News Tribune, the Asbury Park Press, the Courier-Post and the Daily Journal.  GateHouse owns the Burlington County Times and is in the process of purchasing the New Jersey Herald.

Within the last 27 years, New Jersey has dropped from 23 daily newspapers – all with local news bureaus and individual editorial boards – to 17 with staffs that are a fraction of the size of their past and in many cases, without editorial writers commenting on local issues.

Over the last fifteen years, the U.S. has lost about 1,800 local newspapers, with newsroom staff just 75% of what it was, according to a University of North Carolina study.

Gannett fought off a hostile takeover bid by Digital First Media earlier this year.

Executives from Gannett and other large newspaper chains were in Washington last month to seek a four-year immunity from anti-trust laws to help them battle competition from tech platforms like Facebook and Google.

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