Newspaper consolidation is in the works again. Journal Communications, the parent company of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, announced in mid-January that Community Newspaper Incorporated (CNI) in New Berlin will be realigned under Journal Communications.
While CNI has been owned by Journal Communication for some time, it has continued to “act like an independent company” according to Bruce Murphy of Milwaukee Magazine. This autonomy will end with the realignment of CNI within Journal Communications. The Journal Sentinel will now take direct control over the members of CNI.
CNI publishes a variety of media outlets including Aqui! Milwaukee, a monthly Spanish publication, This Week!, a free shopper, and over a dozen suburban newspapers.
William Thorn, a professor of Journalism in the William and Mary Diedrich College of Communication believes this particular acquisition to be a “small part of a much larger pattern.” Various newspaper companies, such as Gannet, Knight Ridder and the Tribune Company, have been purchasing smaller papers since the 1960s. Milwaukee’s own example of newspaper consolidation came in April 1995 when the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel merged to form today’s Journal Sentinel.
Thorn indicates that if Journal Communications had not made the realignment, it is probable that another larger media corporation, such as Gannett, would have made an attempt to acquire CNI to directly reach the Milwaukee market.
On the national scene, Gannett continues to be particularly active. Thorn states that, “Since the late 70s and on, Gannett has been the most aggressive purchaser, particularly of small dailies.” In Wisconsin, Gannett controls 10 newspapers.
Murphy believes Journal Communications plans for realignment are mainly about economic principles. They will most likely “cut staff and budget to [the] bare bones, but if they’re able to combine efficiencies through CNI and Journal-Sentinel they will save money.” For a newspaper like the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, amalgamating its corporation with another local paper is a good economic practice. As Thorn said, “If you don’t grow you die.”
Popularity: 15% [?]