Jan 9, 2023 - Business

ThisWeek newspaper chain to be shuttered by Gannett

Illustration of a skull and bones made out of newspaper

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

ThisWeek Community News, the collection of newspapers serving more than a dozen Columbus suburbs, is being shuttered later this month.

Driving the news: Gannett, which also owns the Columbus Dispatch, announced their final print date will be Jan. 26.

Why it matters: Many of the shuttered newspapers have long histories in their respective communities and their demise will lead to a gap in suburban news coverage.

State of play: The award-winning newspapers are not just the modest stalwarts of convenience store news racks, but also some of the few remaining outlets keeping the powerful institutions in their areas, like city halls and police departments, accountable.

The big picture: Rising print costs and declining advertising revenue are contributing to the fall of local newspapers, turning a growing number of U.S. cities into news deserts.

Between the lines: ThisWeek's closure follows multiple rounds of layoffs across Gannett, the country's largest newspaper chain, in 2022 — including several Dispatch reporters.

  • Many of those remaining were required to take a week of unpaid furlough during the recent holidays.
  • Meanwhile, the company has faced criticism for its questionable acquisition strategies, high executive pay and stock buyback plan for shareholders.

What they're saying: An unspecified number of ThisWeek staffers are being laid off, a Gannett spokesperson tells Axios, while others will fold into the Dispatch's high school sports desk.

  • "We are confident in the future of local news and remain deeply committed to serving our readers, subscribers and advertisers in print and digital formats as we ensure the success of the core Columbus Dispatch product," executive editor Edwina Blackwell Clark said in a statement.

💭 Tyler's thought bubble: I've experienced the challenges of print journalism firsthand. The hometown newspaper I delivered as a paperboy closed in 2016 after 148 years of operation.

  • Two years later, the weekly newspaper I edited in southern Ohio consolidated with one in a neighboring county.
  • I mourn the absence of local coverage which will not be easily replaced, along with the permanent loss of a talent pipeline that produced many successful local reporters and photographers.

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