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First Coast

GateHouse Media, Owner Of Florida Times-Union, Buying Gannett

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Bill Bortzfield
/
WJCT News
Following layoffs and the presses being closed, The Florida Times-Union moved from its longtime home at 1 Riverside Ave. (pictured) to the Wells Fargo Center.

GateHouse Media's parent company is acquiring Gannett in a deal that it says will result in "cost synergies of $275 to $300 million annually, unlocking meaningful shareholder value."

GateHouse Media - which is owned by New Media Investment Group - and Gannett both have ties to Jacksonville's media landscape.

GateHouse Media bought The Florida Times-Union and the St. Augustine Record from the Morris family of Augusta, Ga., in 2017.

WTLV NBC-12 and WJXX ABC 25, which collectively make up First Coast News, were owned by Gannett before Gannett spun off its TV stations into a company called TEGNA.

Gannett’s flagship newspaper is USA Today. It also owns the Tallahassee Democrat, Florida Today, The News-Press and a variety of other Florida dailies.

GateHouse's Florida newspapers include The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Panama City News Herald and others.

Although GateHouse Media is buying Gannett, the combined companies will take the Gannett name and the combined company will be based at Gannett’s McLean, Va., headquarters.

"We believe this transaction will create value for our shareholders, greater opportunities for our employees, and a stronger future for journalism," said New Media Investment Group CEO Michael Reed in a joint news release.

The companies announced Reed will remain CEO while Paul Bascobert, the newly appointed CEO of Gannett, will become CEO of the combined company’s operating subsidiary.

The merger will create a local and national media company with 263 daily media organizations across 47 states and Guam, according to the news release.

"The majority of synergies is expected to be realized within 24 months of closing and result from the increased scale of the new organization, sharing of best practices, leveraging existing infrastructure, facility rationalization and other judicious cost reductions," the companies said in the news release. 

"Judicious cost reductions" and "synergies" could mean more layoffs across the two chains.

In Florida, the Times-Union has seen several rounds of cutbacks since being acquired by GateHouse Media. The Jacksonville presses where shut down in 2018, and earlier this year Gatehouse Media announced the presses in Daytona Beach were being closed.

Members of the newsroom staff at the Times-Union voted to form a union less a year after Gatehouse Media took control of the paper.

New Media Investment Group shareholders will own 50.5% of the combined company. Gannett shareholders will own 49.5%.

Editor's note: The Florida Times-Union is an editorial partner of WJCT News. 

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at bbortzfield@wjct.org, 904-358-6349 or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.