During the pandemic, more than 70 newsrooms in the U.S. closed, leaving the communities they served with merged newsrooms based in other cities or no local newspapers at all.
But a new piece examines the fate of local newsrooms that are moving in a different direction — back into local hands.
Mark Jacob wrote about the trend for Northwestern University’s Medill Local News Initiative, in a piece co-published by Poynter:
… Local owners’ strong presence in the community may be more important, according to Penny Abernathy, creator of the influential “news deserts” reports and visiting professor at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications.
“All things being equal,” Abernathy said, “local ownership is always best for the community where the newspaper is located. That’s because a local owner is going to know that market and know the residents.”
Poynter previously reached out to Gannett, which owns more than 100 daily publications in 34 states and many more weeklies, for details about the sales. Gannett shared a list of the publications it has sold back to local owners.
“Gannett takes pride in covering and delivering vital news and information to the communities we serve. The USA Today Network and our national footprint provides opportunities for increased scale and investment, though we understand local ownership can be a strong model as well,” said Bernie Szachara, who leads Gannett’s U.S. publishing operations, via email. “Our mission is to empower communities, and our decisions are driven by our commitment to best serve them. Having been approached by prospective buyers, we’ve carefully considered what was best for both our company and the community, and we’re pleased that in several situations, a local owner will continue to lead these brands into the future.”
Here are the former Gannett newsrooms that are now locally owned. We included links to those we found online:
- The Carmi Times, The Advocate Press, Newton Press Mentor, Olney Daily Mail (Now The Hometown Register)
- CCAP Special
- Richland County Shopper
- Teutopolis Press and Southern Illinois Trader
- People Sentinel
Correction: This story and headline have been changed to reflect there are 23 publications instead of 26, due in part to incorrect information given to Poynter by Gannett. Gannett included The American in Oklahoma on its list of papers it sold, but Reid Newspapers reached out and let Poynter know that paper has been part of the company for more than 20 years. Additionally, The Cherokee County Press did not become the Tahlequah Daily Press, which was already owned by CNHI. And the Jasper County Daily News was never owned by Gannett and should not have been included in this list. We apologize for the errors.