December 3, 2015

In a slightly cryptic rebranding maneuver, Gannett is removing its own name from the digital sites of its 92 local newspaper organizations and describing them as part of the USA TODAY Network.

The new style has been piloted at The Courier Journal of Louisville. The company announced today that it will be rolled out to all of its local papers in January. And Gannett will be adding another 15 titles in the first quarter of 2016 when it completes purchase of Journal Media Group — the combination of the former Scripps papers and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The company describes the move as uniting its local and national brands  — to my reading a next step in a strategy that has been taking shape over the last three years. Gannett now adds sections of USA TODAY national and entertainment news to its larger local papers and draws on pooled work from the locals for some national-scope projects.

From a marketing perspective, advertisers can buy the expanded USA TODAY national audience in print or digital, advertise in a single community or mix and match buys at several titles.

The company claims 100 million monthly unique visitors to its digital network — 50 percent more than either The Washington Post or New York Times, which have been jockeying recently to claim the largest audience for a single paper’s digital offerings.

I have asked for more information about what new will be offered or whether this could be a prelude to renaming the company (The Courier Journal site is scrubbed clean of any reference to Gannett).

Update:  A Gannett spokeswoman  confirmed that this was a rebranding with no immediate substantive changes.  She added that there are no plans, for now to change the company’s name.

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Rick Edmonds is media business analyst for the Poynter Institute where he has done research and writing for the last fifteen years. His commentary on…
Rick Edmonds

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