Gannett is hungry for one thing – and it’s not great newspapers – The Guardian

Richard Walker, the Sunday Herald editor in Glasgow, and his Newsquest colleague Tony Carlin, editor of the Evening Times there, have both opted to take voluntary redundancy. It’s a shame and a sad loss (though Nicola Sturgeon, whether she remembers Walker’s support at referendum time and his vision in founding the pro-SNP National daily, is uncharacteristically cautious when she sings a lament). What’s the problem? Newsquest – head office in High Wycombe, Bucks – is a subsidiary of Gannett, America’s biggest newspaper chain which, a few weeks ago, chopped itself in two. Here’s the TV half, booming away, and here’s the newspaper rump.

How do you make a profit there? Easy. By buying up competitors such as Romanes Group, which has 20-odd titles in central Scotland, then hammering back on already hammered costs. Bang go another 20 editorial jobs (part, perhaps, of the $67m in “reduced operating costs” that Gannett chief cited as part of “incremental efficiency in our base business”).

Better journalism? Not mentioned. The need to investigate and reflect an embryo nation? Um… The vital job of supporting Richard and Tony as they try to serve their communities? Not this week, this year, this millennium. Gannett is not well-loved here, or in the US. Gannett seems to exist to keep shareholders cheerful and pay executives royally. Gannett is a row of figures on the bottom line. Fewer reporters, less resources? That decision arrived in a week when BuzzFeed UK added 14 new reporting jobs – including in Scotland, Wales and the north of England. American newspapers lash back in GB, American websites invest. It’s a curiously dislocated world.

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