Now in the News: Gannett Journalists Across The U.S. Will Strike On June 5

June 2, 2023

Six Virginia Newspapers To Reduce Print Day

Six local newspapers in Virginia, including three in Southwest and Southside, will reduce their print publication frequency to just three days a week starting next month, according to announcements the newspapers published Sunday. They’re among the latest of at least 30 papers around the country owned by Lee Enterprises that have announced such changes.

Starting June 27, the Bristol Herald Courier, The (Charlottesville) Daily Progress, the (Culpeper) Star-Exponent, the (Danville) Register & Bee, the Martinsville Bulletin, and The (Waynesboro) News Virginian will publish “expanded” print editions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and will deliver them by postal mail rather than using traditional newspaper carriers, according to the newspapers’ announcements.

All currently publish seven days a week except the Bulletin, which does not have a print edition on Saturdays, and the Star-Exponent, which does not publish print editions on Mondays and Saturdays.

“Every print day, you’ll experience a ‘Sunday’ reading experience that’s bursting with local news and opinions, investigative and watchdog journalism, personalities and profiles, sports stories that take you beyond the results of the game and a deeper look at the businesses and market leaders in our community and the world around us,” according to the papers’ announcements, which said the print editions will have more content, sections and pages than before

Meta Threatens To Remove News From Instagram And Facebook Over Proposed California Law

You may have heard a thing or two about California’s Journalism Preservation Act, modeled after similar (but ultimately unsuccessful) legislation. While some news outlets have come out in favor of the proposal targeting tech company use of news content, others in the industry have called the bill “fundamentally flawed” and likely to benefit newspaper chains while overlooking smaller newsrooms in the state.

One particularly outspoken — if unsurprising — opponent? Meta, which threatened Wednesday to remove news from Facebook and Instagram if the act passes. Spokesperson Andy Stone tweeted the statement:

“If the Journalism Preservation Act passes, we will be forced to remove news from Facebook and Instagram rather than pay into a slush fund that primarily benefits big, out-of-state media companies under the guise of aiding California publishers. The bill fails to recognize that publishers and broadcasters put their content on our platform themselves and that substantial consolidation in California’s news industry came over 15 years ago, well before Facebook was widely used. It is disappointing that California lawmakers appear to be prioritizing the best interests of national and international media companies over their own constituents.”

The bill had passed an important committee hearing earlier this month with bipartisan support. One capitol correspondent noted California lawmakers are likely to vote on the act this week.

Like similar legislation passed in Australia and under consideration in Canada, California’s Journalism Preservation Act would require Meta and Google to share revenue with the exact amounts going to media companies determined through an arbitration process.

Manchester Journal Inquirer Newspaper To Be Bought Out By Hearst

Hearst Media is reporting that it is acquiring the Manchester-based Journal Inquirer newspaper

Hearst Connecticut Media Group Thursday morning was reporting that it was about to acquire the Manchester-based Journal Inquirer newspaper, which covers 18 towns in north central Connecticut. The report appeared via Hearst’s Connecticut Insider platform. The JI has been covering the area for more than a halfcentury with a hard news approach under a tabloid format. The Hearst report suggested the deal could be done by the weekend. Area real estate developer Neil Ellis, who co-founded the newspaper with his wife, pioneering media mogul Elizabeth Ellis, has been the publication’s figurehead since Elizabeth’s death in 2020 at the age of 92. Neil and Betty Ellis in 1967 acquired the Rockville Journal and the South and East Windsor Inquirer, all weeklies. They often bragged that it all started in a garage in the historic Rockville area of Vernon. The publications merged into the Journal Inquirer in 1968 and Betty Ellis assumed the title of assistant publisher in 1970 and publisher in 1973. The operation eventually moved into an industrial building on Progress Drive in Manchester. The JI’s motto had been to never shy away from hard-hitting local news, but it also embraced extensive coverage of sports, including high school and collegiate teams supplemented by popular features like snow sports, golf, bowling and auto racing columns.

The newspaper is one of the last independent news publications in Connecticut.

Gannett Journalists Across The U.S. Will Strike On June 5

Gannett has around 200 newsrooms, and editorial employees at around two dozen of those will go on strike.

On Monday, June 5, Gannett, the country’s largest newspaper chain, will hold its annual shareholders meeting — and “hundreds” of Gannett union journalists across the U.S. will walk off the job, the NewsGuild–CWA said Thursday. Most Gannett journalists are not unionized and will not be striking. Gannett owns around 200 papers, and NewsGuild said employees from two dozen of those papers are going on strike, across seven states.

As of December 31, 2022, Gannett said it had around 11,200 U.S. employees and that only about 17% of them are represented by unions; that figure includes Teamsters drivers, for instance.

NewsGuild–CWA is calling on shareholders to withhold their votes on Mike Reed, board chair and CEO of Gannett. “Under Reed’s stewardship of the company following the merger of GateHouse Media and Gannett Media in November 2019, newsrooms have been hollowed out, local news coverage has dwindled, and Gannett share prices have fallen nearly 70% — far more than peers in the industry like the New York Times and Lee Enterprises,” NewsGuild–CWA said in its release. (Some journalists who work for those peers have been striking, too.)

NewsGuild shared statistics from individual Gannett papers to back up its claims. The Austin American-Stateman, for instance, cut its unionized newsroom staff by 79.5% between 2013 and 2023, NewsGuild said. In 2013, Ohio’s Record-Courier had 43 unionized newsroom employees; today, NewsGuild says, it has four.