GateHouse Media enters into agreement to acquire Gannett, forming largest U.S. publishing company

New Media Investment Group Inc., the public parent company of GateHouse Media, the owner of this newspaper, has signed an agreement to acquire Gannett Co. Inc. Following closing, both the public and operating companies will be called Gannett.

Mike Reed, Chairman and CEO of New Media, will serve as Chairman and CEO of the combined public company.

This ground-breaking acquisition will create the largest local news publishing organization in the country and ushers in a new era of American journalism. This transaction is subject to regulatory review, which is anticipated to take several months.

GateHouse, based in Pittsford, N.Y., publishes 154 daily newspapers with legacies of in-depth, hyperlocal news in large, mid-size and smaller markets.

GateHouse papers include the Austin American-Statesman, Columbus Dispatch, Providence Journal and Savannah Morning News.

Gannett, based in McLean, V.A., has a long history as publisher of USA TODAY and more than 100 local brands, including The Arizona Republic, the Detroit Free Press and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“The union of our two great companies signifies an enormous shift in our industry,” said New Media CEO Mike Reed.

“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 operations to dynamic multimedia operations.”

The combined company will become a top-five digital media player, as measured by the media audience tracking company, Comscore, and have the largest online audience of any local news provider in the country.

Journalism that matters

GateHouse and Gannett share a steadfast commitment to journalism with impact. GateHouse has been recognized with national awards such as the Pulitzer for investigative reporting in 2016, for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s series with the Tampa Bay Times that revealed horrific conditions in Florida’s mental health hospitals and led to overhauls in state legislation.

The Sarasota newsroom was honored again the following year, with the distinguished Batten Medal for public service journalism, from the American Society of News Editors, for exposing deep racial bias in the Florida court system.

In 2018, GateHouse won multiple national innovation awards from both the Associated Press Media Editors and Local Media Association. GateHouse newspapers also have been recognized since 2014 by Editor & Publisher’s annual 10 Newspapers That Do It Right.

Gannett’s news teams have also received significant recognition. They were recently recognized nationally with prestigious George Polk and Scripps Howard awards, as well as several Edward R. Murrow awards for broadcast and digital journalism.

In 2018, Gannett received three Pulitzers: the Cincinnati Enquirer for local reporting on the heroin epidemic, the Des Moines Register for editorial writing, and the Arizona Republic and USA TODAY for explanatory journalism following an exhaustive exploration along the U.S.-Mexico border wall.

The investigative report was published as Congress was considering the allocation of funds to build a border wall and the reporting continues to impact policy decisions.

“Under a united brand, quality journalism and community leadership will remain central to our mission,” said Kirk Davis, GateHouse Media CEO.

“From wide-reaching investigations exposing injustice, to unwavering community watchdog reporting, our news teams will be as committed as ever to local news.”

The future of news

The combined scale of GateHouse and Gannett will create a major national platform and better position the company to address the profound changes the industry has faced in media consumption habits and advertising spend.

The company will look to accelerate its transition to a sustainable business model. Both companies have invested in divisions offering robust digital marketing services.

The combination of three Google Premier SMB Partners, Gannett’s ReachLocal and Wordstream subsidiaries and GateHouse’s UpCurve subsidiary, will solidify the company’s position as a significant partner for small and mid-sized businesses.

The combined company will also look to build on internal strengths including accelerating the growth of GateHouse’s Live Events and Race subsidiary and further developing Gannett’s Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality capabilities.

About GateHouse and Gannett

GateHouse was originally formed as Liberty Group Publishing in 1998, when Kenneth Serota bought 160 community newspapers from Hollinger International, with backing from Leonard Green & Partners. During the next seven years, Liberty continued to add newspapers to its portfolio.

In 2005, Fortress Investment Group purchased Liberty, renamed the company GateHouse Media, and further expanded the company’s footprint to 75 dailies and more than 300 weeklies and shoppers. New Media Investment Group Inc., GateHouse’s parent holding company, was established in 2013.

GateHouse is currently the largest publisher of daily newspapers across the United States, as measured by number of newspapers, with 733 daily and community publications across 39 states.

The company’s print and digital products reach more than 21 million people each week.

Gannett’s roots date back to 1906, when founder Frank Gannett and associates purchased a half interest in the Elmira Gazette, in upstate New York. Gannett grew through a series of acquisitions and investments, and in 1982 created USA TODAY.

Gannett now owns 109 newspapers in 34 states and Guam, and has more than 160 local news brands in the U.K. through its Newsquest subsidiary.

Sunday readership of Gannett’s local newspapers is 11 million each week while USA TODAY has average daily readership of 1.6 million. The company’s websites attract more than 125 million average monthly unique visitors.