Recent Growth Catapults Gannett to Top Spot In Weekly Newspaper Ownership

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With the founding or acquisition of 85 weekly newspapers in the last 11 months, Gannett Co. is now the nation’s leading owner of U.S. weeklies, according to data compiled by Editor & Publisher and analyzed by the Institute for Rural Journalism & Community Issues.

“Surveys of E&P’s Year Book Online in August 2004 and July 2005 found that the number of weeklies owned by Gannett during the 11-month period rose to 207 from 122,” writes the Institute’s Chas J.Hartman. “That 70% growth put Gannett above the 2004 leader in number of weeklies, Community Newspapers Inc., which showed very modest growth, to 179 weeklies from 174.”

Gannett’s weeklies include 137 community weeklies, 51 shopper and TMCs, and 19 specialty/niche publications. The company says it owns many more than that — in fact, a majority of its total of 850 newspaper properties — which are not listed in the E&P directory.

A lengthy article about this trend, focusing on Gannett’s moves, appears today at www.ruraljournalism.org, written by Hartman, graduate assistant, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues.

Here is his list of the top 10 weekly owners, based strictly on the E&P directory listings:

1. Gannett Co. (McLean, Va.) 207
2. Journal Register Co. (Trenton, N.J.) 180
3. Community Newspapers Inc. (Athens, Ga.) 179
4. Liberty Group Publishing (Northbrook, Ill.) 141
5. Lee Enterprises (Davenport, Iowa) 113
6. Landmark Community Newspapers (Shelbyville, Ky.) 83
7. Hollinger (Chicago, Ill.) 82
8. Advance Publications (Staten Island, N.Y.) 80
9. Community Newspaper Holdings (Birmingham, Ala.) 73
10. MediaNews Group (Denver, Colo.) 63

?Gannett’s weeklies have a strongly suburban focus, often in areas where the company publishes dailies,? Hartman writes.

?Much of Gannett’s weekly growth earlier this year was in the Cincinnati area, where it owns the dominant daily, The Cincinnati Enquirer. In March, the company bought for an undisclosed sum HomeTown Communications Network Inc., which included the Community Press and Community Recorder newspapers. The Community Press is a network of 26 community weeklies in the Cincinnati area; the Recorder papers are in the Kentucky part of the metro area.”

He adds: ?Gannett says the actual number of non-daily publications it owns dwarfs E&P’s figures. The company has almost 850 publications, and ‘The majority of them are weeklies,’ said Tara Connell, Gannett’s vice president of corporate communications. She said a specific breakdown was unavailable.

?Many of Gannett’s non-dailies fall outside E&P Year Book parameters, because of publication frequency or subject matter. In some cases, eligible publications do not appear in the Year Book because E&P could not obtain personnel and circulation data. Those factors account for Connell’s higher total, and the lack of listings for free weeklies published by daily metro papers.?

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