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Longboat Key Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2022 3 months ago

Weekly newspapers dead? Not us

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Weekly newspapers are being shuttered by hedge fund owners. We’re long from being gone at the Observer Media Group.
by: Emily Walsh Publisher

Every so often, a headline shocks even us.

Recently, Dan Kennedy, a professor at Northeastern University’s School of Journalism, posted “Gannett goes on a massive spree of closing and merging weekly newspapers” on his blog, Media Nation. The post reported on Gannett’s recent closures of 19 of its weekly newspapers and merging of nine weeklies into four in eastern Massachusetts. Gannett, the largest U.S. newspaper chain, is the parent company of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and USA Today.

Kennedy went on to reference a tweet by Greg Reibman, president of the Charles River Regional Chamber and a former journalist at GateHouse Media, which merged with Gannett in 2019, that linked to another post titled, “Local newspapers aren’t dying. They’re dead.”

All due respect, sir, but we’d like to disagree.

It’s hard to deny the turmoil that the newspaper industry is facing. Locally you’ve seen it with Gannett imposing multiple rounds of layoffs of local journalists leaving so few bylines behind in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune that it seems the entire daily paper includes stories from the USA Today network. In May 2021, Gannett closed the Sarasota Herald-Tribune printing press.

McClatchy, owner of the Bradenton Herald and Miami Herald, dropped its Saturday print edition in February 2020. And possibly the most dramatic was when the Tampa Bay Times, the largest newspaper in Florida, dropped all but two of its print editions in April 2020 during the pandemic, saying it was a temporary yet ultimately permanent decision.

While Gannett informed its readers of the closures in statements that said, “It will no longer arrive at the end of your driveway or in the mailbox once a week” we at the Observer Media Group are doing exactly the opposite.

Our print editions in our bigger, bolder new broadsheet size are not going anywhere and our distribution remains strong at 60,000 copies each week. We recently expanded home delivery to select neighborhoods and are in the process of adding more. In fact, if we’re not already in your driveway every Thursday, you can sign up here: YourObserver.com/home-delivery.

If anything, we’re trying to figure out how we can get our news in front of even more eyeballs. Digitally, we continue to grow and are in the middle of a migration project to a new content management system for our websites to provide an even slicker experience for our largest and fastest-growing audience online.

So, while hedge funds shut down and consolidate their weekly newspapers, these family-owned and -operated weekly newspapers continue to grow and add value to our publications.

Read on below for more.

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