GateHouse’s Takeover of Gannett: Bad News for Journalism and the Planet
Featured image: USA Today Building, McLean, Virginia (cc photo: Shashi Bellamkonda)
USA Today ran a piece (8/20/19) on the Amazon fires in which “anthropogenic climate change” were almost literally the last three words. Media watchers are wondering if that’s more likely to reflect the outlet’s priorities now that its owner, Gannett—the largest newspaper publisher in the country, as measured by total daily circulation—has merged with GateHouse Media, owned by Wes Edens’ New Fortress Investment Group, which also owns New Fortress Energy, which deals in natural gas.
The merger is terrible for the usual journalistic reasons: This sort of consolidation means fewer resources for reporting, usually fewer reporters, and less informed attention to local affairs. As for the fossil fuel connection, it’s maybe not so much what it means for USA Today as for the 666 other publications involved nationwide. Like in Florida, where as New Fortress, Edens owns a liquefied natural gas export terminal, with big eyes on Puerto Rico, and as GateHouse, he owns 31 publications, including four newly acquired Gannett papers.
As FAIR founder Jeff Cohen was quoted in a piece for the Real News Network (8/8/19):
With environmental struggles often localized and fought over issues like fracking and pipeline construction, it’s a grave situation when a gas and fracking investor like Edens is the ultimate owner of an ever-increasing number of local dailies and weeklies.
USA Today‘s “Just the FAQs” video (8/20/19) on the Amazon fires—which promises to explain, “How does this affect our planet?”—manages to avoid ever using the words “climate” or “global warming.” (There is one reference to “carbon and greenhouse gases,” not further explained.)