By Lenore Fedow
GateHouse Media has acquired Gannett, increasing its already extensive newspaper portfolio. The merged companies will be called Gannett.
New York—GateHouse Media, owned by holding company New Media Investment Group, announced a merger with USA Today owner Gannett in a deal valued at $1.4 billion.

The combined company, which will be renamed Gannett, will publish more than 260 daily newspapers across 47 states, as well as Guam.

Prior to the merger, GateHouse Media operated across 39 states and owned 154 daily newspapers and 292 weekly newspapers.

The New York-based company most recently inked deals to acquire The Austin American-Statesman, The Palm Beach Post, and The Akron Beacon Journal.

Gannett owns USA Today as well as The Detroit Free Press, The Des Moines Register, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and others.

The companies posted their separate quarterly results Monday, both reporting a decline in print readership and a double-digit drop in print advertising revenue.

It’s been a rough year for newspapers with U.S. newspaper circulation reaching its lowest level since 1940, the first year with available data, per Pew Research Center data.

Low circulation has repercussions for advertisers as well.

According to The Manifest 2019 Small Business Advertising Survey more than half of small businesses, around 57 percent, use traditional advertising mediums such as print, TV, and radio.

The study found 36 percent of small businesses utilize print advertisements.

The newly-combined Gannett plans to shift its focus from print to its multimedia operation, said New Media CEO Michael Reed in a statement.

“Uniting our talented employees and complementary portfolios will enable us to expand our comprehensive, hyperlocal coverage for consumers, deepen our product offering for local businesses, and accelerate our shift from print-centric to dynamic multimedia operations,” said Reed.

The company said it expects savings from the merger to total between $275 million to $300 million annually.

The savings will stem from the increased scale of the organization, the leveraging of existing infrastructure, and other cost reductions, which are expected to be realized within 24 months on closing, the company said.

Though layoffs were not mentioned in the statements, both companies are known to take that route when cutting costs.

GateHouse Media laid off around 219 people between January and May this year following weak earnings while Gannett let go of 400 employees in January.

According to Pew Research, newsroom employment dipped by a quarter from 2008 to 2018.

The combined company’s executive board will include Reed as CEO and Alison Engel, Gannett’s current chief financial officer, as CFO. 

Newly-appointed Gannett CEO Paul Bascobert will serve as CEO of the combined company’s operating subsidiary.

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