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California lawmaker expressed concern over proposed Gatehouse, Gannett merger

A California lawmaker has written a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice expressing concern over a proposed $1.38 billion merger between GateHouse Media and Gannett Company, saying the merger would cause a deficit of local news coverage in underserved communities.

In a letter sent to DOJ Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim, House Representative Mark DeSaulnier (D., Concord) wrote that while the agency had already approved the merger between the two newspaper companies, there were still concerns over the long-term consequences the merger would have on local news coverage and the job security of journalists working for both companies.

Of particular concern is $300 million in reductions within the first two years after the merger is finalized, which would risk “the elimination of ocal news organizations, particularly in areas already suffering from a lack of high-quality news coverage, and a drastic reduction in the number of news industry jobs,” Rep. DeSaulnier wrote, adding that the reduction in competition resulting from the merger was at odds with the DOJ’s antitrust responsibilities.

The letter cited data from the Nieman Journalism Lab that said the merger would “result in an almost immediate reduction of staff by 10 percent.” Nieman Lab said that would amount to around 2,500 job cuts in the United States.

“This merger is simply incompatible with the (DOJ)’s mission and should be reconsidered or reversed,” Rep. DeSaulnier wrote.

House Representative Diana DeGette of Colorado co-signed the letter. It asked for data the DOJ “examined in your original justification for approving the merger.”

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).