I’m late to this, and apologies to my informants who tried to tip me off earlier in the week. But Jon Chesto of the Boston Business Journal reports that GateHouse Media has announced it will close down the two “page production hubs” it opened just last year — one in Framingham, the other in Rockford, Ill.
The closures will result in the loss of “dozens of jobs,” Chesto writes, though at some point the two facilities will be replaced by a new “Center for News and Design.”
GateHouse, a national chain based in Fairport, N.Y., owns about 100 community newspapers in Eastern Massachusetts — mostly weeklies, but also midsize dailies such as The Patriot Ledger of Quincy, The Enterprise of Brockton and The MetroWest Daily News of Framingham.
Staggering under $1.2 billion in debt and flirting with bankruptcy, as The Wall Street Journal reports, GateHouse is a poster child for what’s wrong with corporate chain ownership of local news organizations.
There are a lot of fine journalists at GateHouse’s Massachusetts papers, doing a good job under difficult circumstances. But local doesn’t scale. Producing pages for some 300 papers nationwide out of one (or two) central facilities is fundamentally a bad idea, and it only matters a little bit whether it’s done competently or not.