Thursday, October 25, 2007

Nebraska newspaper:: We'll let readers know what happens with GateHouse

Greg Awtry, publisher of the York, Nebraska News-Times, made a promise that he may intend to keep but probably will not.
In the article concerning the sale of his newspaper to GateHouse Media, which was announced earlier this week, Awtry promised to let his readers know what takes place when GateHouse takes over:

News-Times Publisher Greg Awtry says the staff of the local newspaper will stay focused on continued excellence.

"GateHouse Media is a company with an acute knowledge of the newspaper business and of the challenges facing community newspapers today," says Awtry. "Although we will miss being part of the Morris family, we look forward to GateHouse's leadership in growing our business. As the change of ownership progresses, we will keep our readers informed. Meanwhile, the staff and management of the York News-Times will not stray from our vision of being the best community newspaper in Nebraska."

While I am sure Awtry was sincere, newspapers, which always demand every scrap of information from those they cover (and in most cases, rightfully so), are notoriously bad about releasing any information about themselves. I remember when American Publishing Company, the precursor of Liberty Group Publishing, which was, of course, the precursor for GateHouse Media, bought The Carthage Press from Thompson Newspapers.

We were required to run the news release word for word, not add any information to it and not even change a couple of errors that were in the release, because that was what the lawyers demanded.

And, of course, our newspaper, just like most newspapers, is not going to report on the various personnel changes which inevitably occur after a new company takes over. I am also reasonably certain that the newspaper will not talk about the cuts in staffing that may come, or the shifts in coverage that will occur as news beats are sacrificed or specially-targeted advertorial sections that provide cash flow, but little of substance of readers. I would be surprised to see things be any different in York, or at any of the other 16 newspapers, including the Pittsburg Morning Sun, Independence Examiner, and Hannibal Courier-Post, that were sold by Morris Publications to GateHouse this week.

GateHouse Media owns The Carthage Press, Neosho Daily News, Neosho Post, Greenfield Vedette, and Aurora Advertiser in southwest Missouri.

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