Now in the News: Jeremy Gulban Owns More Former Gannett Papers Than Anyone; He Says Success Is Up To Communities

July 21, 2023

Jeremy Gulban Owns More Former Gannett Papers Than Anyone; He Says Success Is Up To Communities

“The success or failure of these rural newspapers is on the local people,” CherryRoad Media CEO Jeremy Gulban said Friday, July 7, 2023, at the National Summit on Journalism in Rural America, sponsored by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, publisher of The Rural Blog. His remark fit the Summit’s research question: “How do rural communities sustain local journalism that supports democracy?”

One example of a community sustaining rural journalism was the first paper that Gulban started, the Rainy Lake Gazette in International Falls, Minnesota, where the paper had closed, and the Chamber of Commerce reached out to him because he had recently bought his first paper in Grand Marais, also in northern Minnesota. “They got a whole bunch of different stakeholders in town, and we all met, and it was really kind of an amazing meeting for me, because I had never seen that kind of enthusiasm, that kind of spirit, to solve a problem,” Gulban said. Three weeks later, they had a paper. “People really embraced it,” he said. “We quickly got to more subscribers than, you know, the old paper had.”

That brought the information-technology entrepreneur to the attention of the nation’s biggest newspaper company, which is trying to unload small papers that add little, if anything, to its bottom line. “Gannett was looking for an organization that was strong enough technically to be able to do these migrations that would have to happen, and probably blissfully ignorant enough to take on this challenge of selling their worst papers, basically. So we took the leap.”

Now his company, less than three years old, has 77 papers in 17 states, more than 50 of them former Gannett papers, and many of them “ghost newspapers,” he said. [The term ghost newspaper refers to papers that do not have enough staff to provide a basic level of local news coverage. These publications have diminished to the point that they are “ghosts” of their former selves. Ed.]

Openai Will Give Local News Millions To Experiment With AI

It used to be Facebook and Google doling out funds to local news publishers in an attempt to win them over (and, perhaps, quell said publishers’ dissent over how the platforms were using their content). Now, OpenAI — the Microsoft-backed company behind AI chatbot ChatGPT — is the latest tech giant trying to woo publishers. In an announcement on Tuesday, OpenAI said it will give $5 million to venture philanthropy firm American Journalism Project to figure out how artificial intelligence can best be used to support local news.

Over the two-year partnership, the American Journalism Project will use some of that funding to support a three-person team that will “assess the applications of AI within the local news sector” and “organize a learning community across the AJP portfolio to document and share best practices, guidelines, and lessons as experiments unfold,” and will give the rest directly to “approximately 10” of its current grantees to help them develop tools on their own. Additionally, OpenAI is giving AJP “up to $5 million in API credits” so it and its grantees can experiment with the technology themselves.

“We proudly support the American Journalism Project’s mission to strengthen our democracy by rebuilding the country’s local news sector. This collaboration underscores our mission and belief that AI should benefit everyone and be used as a tool to enhance work,” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman said in the announcement.

Last week, OpenAI struck a two-year deal with the Associated Press to license some of its journalism to train its algorithms. The AP is the first news organization to partner with the company. The financial terms of the deal aren’t public.

LA Times Owner Reportedly Holds Talks About Possible Newspaper Sale

There was a report Sunday evening that Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong has held private talks with Jay Penske to possibly sell the newspaper.

The Intersect Magazine’s website posted a story Sunday evening claiming that the billionaire is considering dealing the Times to Penske’s PMC media empire, which includes publications such as Rolling Stone, The Hollywood Reporter, Billboard and Variety. PMC is a technology, information and internet company.

The deal could enable Soon-Shiong to get out of the news organization, which has been reported to be losing money. He recently sold the San Diego Union-Tribune to Alden Capital.

Penske is based in Los Angeles and controls most major publications in the Southland except for the L.A. Daily News, the Orange County Register and the Union-Tribune.

Soon-Shiong recently told The Intersect that he “loves the Times.” Meanwhile, Penske declined to comment to the magazine about any reported talks.

The magazine also posed the possibility that Soon-Shiong and Penske might work out a deal in which they hold equal ownership shares in the Times.