More Gannett Newspapers Kill Print Editions, Go Online

From a story in the Boston Business Journal by Don Seiffert headlined “Several Mass. Gannett newspapers to kill print edition, go online-only”:

As of May, around 20 local newspapers west Boston that are owned by Gannett will be stopping print publication altogether, reporting solely online.

Several Gannett papers posted notices to readers on Wednesday saying that as of early May, it will “instead exclusively offer news online” at its Wicked Local websites, as well as “on social media, via digital newsletters and other platforms.”

The McLean, Virginia-based company declined to say how many newspapers are being affected by the change. “Information about which publications are making this transition can be found on our websites, and we will be notifying our subscribers via mail as well,” the company said.

A source familiar with the company’s internal conversations said the change would affect about 20 papers in Massachusetts, none of which are dailies. The source said that some papers were also being merged as part of the initiative.

“To better align our portfolio of products with our on-going digital transformation, we have identified several weekly, print publications in the New England area that will transition into a new, entirely digital future,” said Bernie Szachara, president of Gannett US Publishing Operations. “This digital-only subscription model will become effective the week of May 8. Strategies for reaching our audiences have evolved significantly, as well as the capabilities of our enhanced digital marketing solutions. We remain committed to the future of local journalism, and encourage our readers to continue supporting our reliable, accurate, and community-focused news sources across all of our platforms.” 

Among the papers that posted such notices are: the Newton Tab; the Brookline Tab; Needham Times; the Eagle Independant (which covers Westford); the Kingston Reporter; the Wayland Town Crier; the Chronicle and Transcript (which covers Ipswich and Boxford); the Pembroke Mariner; the Courier & Sentinal (which covers Wareham); the Waltham News Tribune; The Register (which covers Cape Cod); the Weston Town Crier; and the Sudbury Town Crier.

The trend was first reported Thursday morning in the Charles River Regional Chamber newsletter, written by Executive Director Greg Reibman, formerly a longtime editor-in-chief and publisher for many of those newspapers.

Some of those papers still have thousands of local readers. The largest, the Newton Tab, said it averaged 22,386 weekly print subscribers in the six month period that ended Sept. 30, 2021. That’s down 20% from five years earlier.

The company has been whittling down the number of its print papers nationwide, as well as the number of local news websites. According to the company’s annual filings, it owned 249 weekly papers as of the start of 2022, down 18% from two years prior. The number of local news websites has also declined over the past two years, from 383 nationwide in 2020 to 292 as of this year, a 24% reduction.

Last month, Northeastern journalism professor Dan Kennedy reported that Gannett planned to replace much of its local, town-by-town coverage with regional coverage.


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