Gannett slashes 136 Saturday papers weeks after discontinuing local community weeklies

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NEPTUNE, NJ – Gannett, Inc., a publicly-traded company and a struggling national print newspaper corporation that operates nine daily newspapers across New Jersey including our local Asbury Park Press and Home News Tribune has announced it is slashing its Saturday newspaper from three of its brands.

The Bergen Record, Daily Journal, and Daily Record will cease printing Saturday editions in March. The news comes just weeks after the company stopped printing weekly community papers across Ocean County.

Gannett, in an email to employees, said it was, “introducing a new Saturday experience in 136 of our markets which transitions from delivering the Saturday print edition to providing exclusive access to the full Saturday e-Edition.”

Gannett purchased the Asbury Park Press from New Jersey Press, Inc., with major shareholders being members of the Plangere and Lass families. Robert T. Collins, the Gannett executive who managed the newspaper shortly after the transition as the publisher made a strange and bold statement to employees.

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Gathered in the now-demolished former corporate headquarters, Collins stood up on a table in the staff cafeteria and declared, “The internet is a fad.”

Over the next few months, Collins and Gannett began dismantling its hyperlocal online news service, IN Jersey, run by internet pioneer Diane Burley and its dial-up statewide internet services. The Plangere family was years ahead of the newspaper industry at the time in bringing newspaper services online, but that was quickly extinguished within a year after the Gannett purchase. IN Jersey’s remnants were later sold off, completing Collins’ transformation back into a majority print business, running on slim profit margins.

Those margins eventually shrunk leading to rounds of layoffs in the twenty-year since and the eventual exodus from the company’s privately owned corporate headquarters in 2014.

In 2020, the company announced it was outsourcing 485 business side jobs to India. In recent years, the company has held several rounds of layoffs in New Jersey, cutting senior and veteran journalists and replacing them with lower-paid, younger, and more inexperienced replacements.

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Gannett’s stock price tumbled over the past 7 years from a high of $24 in 2015 to $5.30 this week.

The local daily newspapers earn a large percentage of their revenue these days in the form of state mandate government public notices. Nearly 10% of the newspaper often consists of public notice ads on an average day.