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Gannett is the United States’ largest media company and newspaper publisher.
Gannett is a publicly traded company based in McLean, Va., the site of USA Today, its flagship paper and by far its largest publication. Gannett owns more than 90 daily newspapers in the United States and Britain, including such major U.S. papers as the Arizona Republic, Indianapolis Star, Detroit Free Press, Tennessean, Des Moines Register, and Louisville Courier-Journal. Its papers had a combined weekday circulation of 4.9 million as of 2012. It also owns 43 television stations and several other advertising and media holdings. It bought 20 of those stations when it acquired Belo in 2013.
Gannett was founded in 1923 in Rochester, N.Y., by newspaper owner Frank Gannett. Over the next several decades, Gannett steadily acquired newspapers and broadcast stations, with its most recent major purchase in 2000.
For several decades, Gannett has been known as being among the leaner, more corporate-driven American newspaper publishers. The company has run its papers with high profit margins, even during lean economic times. During the late 2000s, Gannett laid off thousands of newspaper employees during a series of companywide cuts. Its employment peaked in 2005 and has fallen off every year since then, including hundreds of job cuts in 2013. The company has been criticized for giving executives large bonuses as they made those cuts. In 2012, its pension plan was reportedly underfunded by nearly $1 billion.
Gannett’s financial situation bottomed out in 2009, as its cost-cutting could not sustain its historically high profit margins. Gannett’s profit continued to drop slightly in early 2010, though its income increased.
Gannett has invested in or bought several digital properties since 2005, including the online ad firm PointRoll, social media ad firm BLiNQ, online shopping circular ShopLocal, livestreaming video service Mogulus, local entertainment network Metromix, sports blog The Big Lead, and sports aggregation site Quickish. In 2010, Gannett launched GannettLocal, a business consultation firm focused on online marketing. Gannett has an advertising agreement with Yahoo covering all of its publishing and broadcast properties.
Gannett implemented paywalls across nearly all of its newspaper sites in 2012. Bloomberg reported in early 2011 that Gannett was considering charging readers for web access and that a pilot project with paid sports content was under way at one of its papers. In December 2011, the company announced that it would begin incorporating online paid-content plans on a broad scale in early 2012. The company told investors in February 2012 that the paywall would be a metered model and would cover all of its newspaper websites except USA Today.
The paper was experimenting with paywalls at a handful of papers in early 2012. By June 2012, it had instituted paywalls just more than half of its papers and expected the plan to bring in $100 million in additional operating profit by the end of the year. By the end of the third and fourth quarters of 2012, Gannett announced significant gains in circulation revenue thanks to the paywalls at 71 of its 80 papers.
In 2006, Gannett launched a wide-ranging overhaul of its news outlets called The Information Center. The project marked a companywide shift into digital journalism, emphasizing local news, multimedia journalism and citizen-driven media efforts.
The initiative included the development of multimedia-oriented, office-less “mobile journalists,” hyperlocal and niche websites, citizen-led crowdsourcing projects, round-the-clock news, and an online video network.
Reaction to the project has been somewhat mixed: It initially received strong praise from numerous sources, but some were skeptical. Since the project has been implemented, it occasionally has been criticized for poor execution and misplaced focus.
The Daily Voice, formerly known as Main Street Connect, is a network of hyperlocal news sites that operates on a franchise model. The company, founded by former community newspaper publisher Carll Tucker, was launched in early 2010 with The Daily Norwalk, a site covering Norwalk, Conn. It quickly expanded to several other sites in the…