The Gannett newspaper chain, as bad as it has been for the communities it serves, is now being held up as an exemplar of local journalism that must be saved from the ravages of Digital First Media, which, admittedly, is much worse. Talk about defining deviancy down. What I observed in Burlington, Vermont, in late 2015 should give anyone pause before they praise Gannett — once labeled by the late media critic Ben Bagdikian as “the largest and most aggressive newspaper chain in the United States.”
The newspaper analyst Ken Doctor, writing at the Nieman Journalism Lab, reports that Gannett executives may seek to wriggle out of Digital First’s hostile takeover attempt by delivering themselves into the arms of Tribune Publishing, the company formerly known as tronc. Tribune, like Gannett, is known more for its cost-cutting than for its journalism. But anything is better than Digital First.