Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain, notched an important victory Thursday in its attempt to fend off a hostile takeover bid. The company, which publishes USA Today, announced that all eight of its board nominees won election based on the results of a preliminary vote. That’s a rejection of Digital First Media’s efforts to win control of Gannett by installing its own board members.
Alden Global Capital’s strategy: Buy newspapers, slash jobs, sell the buildings. Now it’s bidding to buy Gannett, operator of the nation’s largest chain of daily newspapers by circulation, including USA Today — as well as its $900 million in remaining property and equipment — for more than $1.3 billion.
Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain and the publisher of USA Today, rejected a takeover bid by MNG Enterprises, the hedge fund-owned company also known as Digital First Media, on Monday. The decision by Gannett’s board of directors was unanimous.
Newspaper circulation is down sharply, and so is employment in the newspaper industry. Financial cutbacks have led to the shutdown of nearly 1,800 daily and weekly newspapers since 2004. Two developments this week brought the issue into further focus. Facebook, whose success has contributed to the news business’ decline, announced Tuesday it would invest $300 million over three years in news initiatives with an emphasis in local coverage. More ominously, the hedge fund-backed Digital First Media, known for sharp cost-cutting strategies, bid to buy Gannett Co. , the publisher of USA Today and several daily newspapers across the country.
The Wall Street Journal, citing “people familiar with the matter,” reported Monday that MNG, Enterprises, better known as Digital First Media, which is backed by a hedge fund, holds 7.5% of Gannett’s stock and has been rebuffed repeatedly by the company when it has approached it about a sale. Digital First plans to offer to buy Gannett for $12 per share, nearly a quarter above its closing share price Friday of $9.75.
With the Detroit Free Press publishing the No. 1 local news site in the city, news-producing affiliates WDIV (NBC), WXYZ (ABC) and WJBK (Fox) are investing heavily in their digital platforms to secure core audiences while drawing newcomers. “We are trying to be the No. 1 sites, and we are trying to figure out what the secret sauce is to do that,” says Catherine Badalamente, VP of digital media for Graham Media, which owns WDIV. “That is 100% of my goal.”
Newsy Ramps Up For 24/7 News
Local newspapers and broadcasters today are seeking content management systems that are faster and more complex than ever before. And while vendors are constantly developing new products to keep up with evolving demands, the industry is facing contraction. “There are just too many players, and nobody is really big enough to have any control,” says Internet Broadcasting’s Elmer Baldwin. “There are some that just aren’t going to survive.” Part two of a three-part special report. Read part one here
Content management systems serving the local media industry have taken a quantum leap forward, and choosing the right CMS has become more complicated than ever. Media companies have some difficult choices: select a system from a vendor, build one in-house or use an open-source system. Ron Stitt, VP of digital media at Fox Television Stations: “The pace of development is still constantly accelerating, and the landscape is incredibly complex when you factor in not just the front end but also the underlying platforms, devices, operating systems, display formats, distribution schemes and advertising/tracking requirements.” Part one of a three-part special report. Read the full report here.
The group’s NBC affiliates WCMH Columbus, Ohio, and WSLS Roanoke, Va., have joined Digital First Media’s AdTaxi Alliance Network.
Responsive design, which ensures a consistent user experience across various devices, may be a hot topic at media companies these days, but the strategy does not necessarily mean the end of the road for apps. While some executives think that responsive design is a must, others warn that it’s not a catchall solution and apps still have a place in the media quiver. Part one of a two-part special report on local media’s mobile strategies.
Newspaper groups and a handful of vendors see networks as the answer to filling a void in local online news video. At Digital First and Gannett, the route lies in producing and curating locally produced video and sharing it across their properties. Vendors such as AP and iNK Barrell Video Networks help papers ramp up local production and share in the resulting ad revenue.
Journal Register Co. and MediaNews Group have joined forces as Digital First Media, the companies announced today. JRC CEO John Paton lead the new entity, as well as serve on MediaNews Group’s CEO and on its board of directors.
With the city on the rebound, Detroit’s news-producing affiliates WDIV (NBC), WXYZ (ABC) and WJBK (Fox) are investing heavily in their digital platforms to secure core audiences while drawing the newcomers (artists, techies and the like) lured by the chance to build from the ground up. “We are trying to reinvent ourselves along with them,” says Catherine Badalamente, VP of digital media for Graham Media, which owns NBC affiliate WDIV.