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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

Private colleges across America can't pay their bills

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Behind the scenes in colleges across the U.S., institutions are having trouble paying their bills.

Why it matters: There’s a reckoning coming in higher education — especially for smaller, private liberal arts schools — that’s been years in the making. In obvious ways, COVID accelerated some of the trends, but college finances have been hurting for a while.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
56 mins ago - Health

Special report: America's biggest hospitals vs. their patients

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

More than a quarter of the 100 U.S. hospitals with the highest revenue sued patients over unpaid medical bills between 2018 and mid-2020, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: The report suggests that, rather than being an anomaly, patient lawsuits are relatively common across the country and among the largest providers.

56 mins ago - Health

Most top hospitals charge a more than 5x markup

Expand chart
Data: JHU; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Some of the hospitals with the highest revenue in the country also have some of the highest prices, charging an average of 10 times more than the actual cost of the care they deliver, according to new research by Johns Hopkins University provided exclusively to Axios.

Why it matters: Hospitals each determine their own charges, or list prices. While few patients ever pay those prices, due to negotiated insurance rates, they do affect the uninsured and, experts say, ultimately influence the overall price we all pay.