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Newsonomics: GateHouse’s new round of layoffs fits the sad logic of the coming consolidation
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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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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.
“With a traditional media company, you can have well-defined lines as long as you’re doing the same thing every day. But when you’re trying to reinvent yourself, if you don’t have an ease of communication with IT and with your business counterparts, it doesn’t work.”
The billionaire owner on unions (“I think they did the unionize thing out of desperation”), esports (“We must start fighting for the 16-year-olds all the way to the 30-year-olds, because that’s not our demographic”), and hiring the intern.
It’s a few years behind its East Coast brethren in New York and Washington. But tens of millions in new investment and ambitious digital plans are showing a path back to its former prominence — and beyond.
“I believe that if you’re producing journalism of value, there is no reason to expect that consumers wouldn’t be prepared, in some way, to support that — potentially to pay for it. And that’s probably, ultimately, true of regional and local journalism as well as national and international journalism.”
And what lessons can the rest of the industry draw from the Times’ outsized success?
Alden’s offer to buy Gannett looks less and less credible. But can Tribune and Gannett suss out the merger that might be necessary to stop it?