Home>Highlight>Using front page ads, editorials, Gannett lobbying Congress to help them compete with Google, Facebook

A Gannett office building in Indiana. (Photo: Jonathan Weiss/Shutterstock).

Using front page ads, editorials, Gannett lobbying Congress to help them compete with Google, Facebook

By David Wildstein, July 20 2022 10:10 am

Gannett is using its national chain of newspapers to build public support for legislation that would get Congress to waive antitrust restrictions so that newspapers could get with big platform companies like Facebook and Google to pay them for content that shows up in news feeds.

Newspapers owned by Gannett, including 9 in New Jersey, are running front page ads and digital ads telling readers: “One-third of newspapers are expected to be gone by 2025.  Help us make sure this isn’t one of them.”

According to Poynter, an independent, non-profit that monitors journalism, Gannett has told their local newspaper editors to produce editorials in support of the Journalism Competition and Protection Act.

“With this legislation at a critical juncture, any opinion columns, editorials or guest columns in support will be extremely helpful. The more noise we can make, the better,” said Amalie Nash, the senior vice president for local news and audience development for the USA TODAY network, in an internal memo obtained by Poynter.

The move comes despite a push by Gannett to scale back opinion journalism, including letters to the editor, calling it “obsolete”  and saying that they alienate readers.

“It’s hardly unprecedented for news organizations to donate ad space or editorialize for their self-interest,” said Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst at Poynter in their morning newsletter.  “But this directive comes after Gannett has told the regional papers to reduce space for opinion, minimize editorials telling readers what to think, and steer clear of most national topics. Except in this instance, apparently.”

Gannett faced criticism earlier this month after one of their newspapers published an Op-Ed praising members of the Proud Boys as “caring fathers” without disclosing that the author was married to a member of the group.  Jennifer Orsi, the Gannett’s Florida regional executive editor, later apologized.

The front page of the July 19, 2022, edition of the New Jersey Herald, a Gannett-owned newspaper based in Sussex County. (Image: Courtesy of NJ Herald).
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