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Articles by Ken Doctor

Ken Doctor is a news industry analyst and the author of Newsonomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News You Get (St. Martin’s Press). He also runs the book’s companion website, newsonomics.com. He is an analyst for the research firm Outsell and a regular consultant and speaker. He spent 21 years with Knight Ridder in a variety of roles, including as managing editor of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and as a vice president of Knight Ridder Digital.
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What will the largest local news company need to do and be to be successful in the 2020s? Neither Gannett nor Gatehouse has offered any big vision of what that is, or could be, even fueled by new money.
The merger of the United States’ No. 1 and No. 2 newspaper chains will likely spark a new wave of consolidation among its smaller competitors. But will the potential cost savings be eaten up by debt payments to financiers?
Seven-day newspapers aren’t just talking about cutting out one or two days a week in print — they’re talking five or six. Is this the only way to accelerate the transition to digital or speeding their own decline?
A combined GannHouse (Gatenett?) would own 1 out of every 6 daily newspapers in America. The goal? Buy two or three more years to figure out how to make money in digital.
The Times knows its editors’ judgment of what’s important is one of its critical selling points. But in order to surface more than a sliver of its journalism each day, it’s now willing to respond to readers’ interests in a much bigger way.
A combined company would own 1 of every 6 daily newspapers in America — and a little more breathing room. But eventually, there has to be a plan beyond just getting bigger.
Laying off about 200, hiring about 30: In the short term, cost-cutting and mergers are just about the only plays in the playbook.
This hostile takeover didn’t work out. But the thinking of industry executives remains dominated by the inevitable merging of America’s big newspaper chains.
“I think the hard part for something like Esquire or Harper’s Bazaar in digital — even to some extent Vogue — is that you get into the scale game. Digital demands greater scale. I just don’t know how many men are trying to figure out if corduroy is back in fashion.”
Newspaper company CEOs will be the first to tell you a new round of consolidation won’t solve their problems. But it might give them another year or two of breathing room.