Back in March, the Memphis Commercial Appeal was officially acquired by the Journal Media Group (JMG), the parent company of the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Hopes were high that the merger of Scripps' newspaper properties with JMG would result in a renewed commitment to daily print journalism in Memphis, after the CA endured years of staff cuts, circulation decline, and reduced paper size under its Scripps corporate overlords.
The ink was barely dry from that deal, when it was announced Wednesday that Gannett, the largest newspaper company in the U.S., was acquiring JMG.
In my humble opinion, this does not bode well for Memphis newspaper journalism. For one thing, it puts the editorial product under the auspices of a company that has noticeably decreased the serious journalism in most of its products. Take, for example, Nashville's Tennessean, which has become something of a city-wide joke. Consider the tweet above from Nashvillian Steve Cavendish.
The Knoxville News-Sentinel, also just purchased in this JMG deal, recently bought and then shut down that city's alternative news-weekly. National corporate newspaper chains live to serve their stockholders, not the individual communities where their media properties are. I hope, against hope, that Gannett does not gut the staff or the integrity of the CA, which has been, in my opinion, much better recently than it was during the Joe Pepe/Chris Peck era.
But frankly, I fear it's going to be bad news for all of us who want a strong, locally sourced daily paper.