The proposed merger of two of the newspaper industry's largest companies, GateHouse Media and Gannett, will bring under common ownership two Oregon newspapers: The Register-Guard in Eugene and the Statesman Journal in Salem.
The deal creates a single company under the Gannett name and branding that publishes 263 local and regional daily newspapers in 47 U.S. states and Guam, according to a statement from GateHouse's parent company, New Media, and Gannett.
The new company will be the largest in the U.S. by far, with a print circulation of 8.7 million, or 7 million more than the next largest chain, McClatchy, according to the Associated Press.
The rationale for the combination is that merging will allow up to $300 million a year in avoided costs by sharing infrastructure and pushing toward digital revenue. The merger comes amidst an unprecedented change in the journalism industry; since 2004, more 1,800 local newspapers have closed down leaving "news deserts," or towns without local media representation.
New Media Investment Group, a holding company that owns GateHouse, and GateHouse, its operating subsidiary, will actually acquire Gannett, which owns numerous dailies including USA Today, The Arizona Republic and the Detroit Free Press but the merged entity will operate under the Gannett name.
New Media's CEO, Michael Read, will run the combined company. Gannett's CEO, Paul Bascobert, will run the company's operating subsidiary.
GateHouse officially took over The Register-Guard on March 1 after purchasing Eugene's flagship daily newspaper from its previous owners, the Baker family, for $14.3 million, according to Eugene Weekly. The family owned the paper from 1927 to 2018.
The publisher of the Register-Guard, Shanna Cannon, did not immediately return a request for comment.
Since then, the Register-Guard has seen layoffs, including some of its most senior employees, editorial changes and increased centralization of copy editing and design.
One example Eugene Weekly reported: GateHouse changed the contracts of long-staying freelancers to let the company own the rights of their stories and possibly syndicate them "in perpetuity" without paying the writer. On top of that, the company wanted to reduce payments to freelancers.
The publisher of the Statesman Journal, Cherrill Crosby, did not immediately return a request for comment.