Local newspaper owner restructures to improve ‘efficiency’

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The sign atop Gannett’s headquarters in Virginia.
Credit: Shashi Bellamkonda

Gannett, the company that owns the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer, is restructuring its operations.

The company will be split into two business units: Gannett Media and Digital Marketing Solutions. One will focus on print and digital information operations and the other will focus on business-to-business marketing services, including advertising.

The company statement did not say whether the changes would impact jobs.

Gannett operates its Bucks County hub from Building One Oxford Valley in Middletown Township.

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Michael Reed, CEO of Gannett, celebrated the move and said it will improve “the efficiency of our operations” and “accelerate Gannett’s digital future.”

While the print side of the business has dwindled, Gannett has focused on digital news subscriptions and its business-to-business marketing services. One of the advantages of the marketing services staff is the presence of existing databases of newspaper advertisers, built up over decades.

On Wednesday, Gannett employees were notified of the change via a company-wide memo and video message.

A company-wide memo said the decision to create two separate operating units is a “critical leap forward in our transformation journey.”

During the first-quarter earnings call, Gannett executives said the company was still losing money, but the loss in print advertising had slowed from nearly 10% to about 4%.

Gannett, which owns hundreds of local newspapers and USA Today, boasted subscription growth of 118,000 customers in the first quarter, totaling 1.75 million. The company attracted new subscribers with low introductory rates as part of an overall focus on revenue stream.

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In late April, the Bucks County Courier Times and Doylestown Intelligencer ended their print Monday newspaper. Local newspapers now print five days a week.

The move follows years of local cost cutting by Gannett. Bucks County staff have been cut by more than 75%, its Falls Township printing plant has been closed, delivery drivers have been laid off and local media coverage has been significantly reduced since the local Calkins family sold newspapers in 2017.

As part of a plan to save hundreds of millions of dollars a year, Gannett implemented company-wide cuts, sold or closed less-read newspapers and magazines, and sold assets.

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Gannett still has more than $1 billion in debt from his merger with Gatehouse Media.

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