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Home / Business / Gannett, New Media Investment Group, complete merger: "Pivot" is coming

Gannett, New Media Investment Group, complete merger: "Pivot" is coming



  The new Gannett will be the largest US media company after print circulation and will compete for the country's largest online news and information audience.

New Media Investment Group and Gannett ended their merger on Tuesday, positioning top executives to move forward with plans they believe will transform the new company's local and national news brands, including USA TODAY, into a reinvented digital media powerhouse.

The merger creates the largest US media company by print and one that will fight for the country's largest online news and information audience.

The new company's CEOs ̵

1; Mike Reed, who will head the overall public entity under the name Gannett Co., and Paul Bascobert, who will head an operating company called Gannett Media Corp. The United States told TODAY in a joint interview that they have a compelling opportunity to reinvent the business and expand digital revenue. Both said the company will continue to focus on its journalistic mission.

"Our mission is to connect, protect and celebrate our communities," Bascobert said. "Big journalism is really at the heart of that mission. The question really becomes, what is the sustainable and exciting business model that runs that mission?"

The company faces significant challenges – namely, how to counter the news industry's severe decline in print revenues with new sources of digital dollars.

Approved Agreement: Shareholders in the United States Today, Gannett and New Media Investment Group approve merger

The more than 250 daily publications that are part of the new Gannett – such as Detroit Free Press, The Columbus Dispatch, Arizona Republic and Austin American-Statesman – and hundreds of weekly publications have grown online brands in local markets. Now Gannett needs to find ways to make those connections more revenue.

Outlining a Strategy

Bascobert outlined a strategy based on lead generation in local markets – similar, he said, to the approach used by the home services site Angies List and Yelp, a reviews and directory service.

For example, do you need a plumber? A Gannett publication can help you find one and then earn a fee to help establish that connection.

"This is really us beginning this pivot toward more of what I would call a software-based business model" instead of "an advertising-based business model," said Bascobert, who pursued a similar model while president of XO Group, owner of wedding planning website The Knot.

His vision would represent a significant overhaul. In the first nine months of 2019, more than 51% of the total company's revenue came from advertising and marketing services.

  Nicole Carroll, Editor in Chief of the USA TODAY Center, and Maribel Perez Wadsworth, President of the United States TODAY Network, and Publisher of the United States TODAY, right, celebrate while the Arizona Republic with the United States TODAY Network received the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting for the Wall during a celebration in the United States TODAY Newsroom following the announcement of the Pulitzer Prizes in 2018. Carroll was the Chief of the Arizona Republic commander during coverage of The Wall.

But a wholesale invention is needed because of the "collapse of the newspaper advertising model," which is "the most fundamental business problem facing local news," said Jim Friedlich, CEO of the Lenfest Institute for Journalism, a nonprofit that promotes innovation in local journalism and owner The Philadelphia Inquirer.

Nicole Carroll, United States TODAY Chief, Center, and Maribel Perez Wadsworth, President of the United States TODAY Network, and United States TODAY Publisher, right, celebrate while the Arizona Republic with the United States TODAY Network received the Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory reporting for the Wall during a celebration in the US TODAY Newsroom following the announcement of the Pulitzer Prizes in 2018. Carroll was the Chief of the Arizona Republic during the coverage of The Wall.


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