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Expand chart
Data: UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

GateHouse Media and Gannett, the 2 largest newspaper chains in the U.S., officially announced a merger on Monday.

Why it matters: The combination of the two publishing powerhouses means that a single company would own 1 in every 6 newspapers in the United States, as Axios reported last month.

Between the lines: Shares of Gannett have soared this year while the holding company that owns GateHouse, New Media Investment Group, has seen its stock tumble into negative territory despite the S&P's strong overall performance.

  • Both companies saw a major boost to their stock performance when news of the merger was first reported on July 18.
  • The market clearly likes the merger, as GateHouse has a reputation for slashing costs and consolidating resources.
  • However, it may be a case of buy the rumor sell the news.
Expand chart
Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

Be smart: Unlike some recent mergers in broadcast and telecom — also legacy industries upended by technology — experts don't believe that the deal would cause any regulatory concerns because the companies don't really overlap in key markets.

  • "People get excited about consolidation among media properties, but I think these two companies still represent a small percentage of news publishing and I don't see in them any true antitrust concerns," says David Chavern, CEO of the News Media Alliance, a newspaper trade association that represents thousands of papers.

The big picture: Consolidation in the newspaper industry is rapidly increasing as consumers and advertisers flock to digital alternatives. Large, publicly-traded, newspaper holding groups are consolidating most of the power.

  • For example, a study from UNC's School of Media and Journalism last year found newspaper sales and closures/mergers via the 7 largest newspaper owners have increased over the past 5 years.

The bottom line: "I think this is part of a continuation of local news publishers trying to get to an economically sustainable business model," says Chavern.

Go deeper

Right-wingers making McCarthy sweat for future Speaker post

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy stands with his Republican colleagues outside the House on Nov. 17. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Right-wing elements in the Republican Party are complicating House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's attempts to become the next speaker of the House should the GOP take back the majority in 2022.

Why it matters: While McCarthy has worked carefully to build trust among the conservatives who tanked his chances at clinching the speakership in 2015, they're still circling ahead of the next Speaker vote in January 2023.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Congress sprints to meet crush of deadlines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Congressional leaders have been pushing off vital action for months — and a lot of it will catch up with them in December, which begins Wednesday.

Driving the news: Funding for the federal government is set to expire at midnight on Friday. There are also consequential deadlines related to the debt limit, President Biden's agenda and annual actions like voting on the National Defense Authorization Act.

3 hours ago - World

U.S. fears Iran won’t scale back to 2015 nuclear deal

Officials gather in Vienna on Sept. 29 for the first day of renewed nuclear talks with Iran. Photo: EU Vienna Delegation/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

U.S. officials have extremely low expectations as world powers resume negotiations with Iran to curb its nuclear program, believing the Iranians aren't yet ready to negotiate seriously, Axios is told.

Driving the news: Senior officials in the U.S. intelligence community have assessed the new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi, thinks of his predecessor, Hassan Rouhani, as a weak accommodationist who negotiated a bad deal with the U.S. and other world powers in 2015.