The country’s largest newspaper chain, Gannett Co., recently recommended that the papers it owns drastically dial back opinion pieces and political endorsements and dedicate more time to churning out real news instead of agitprop.
“Its recommendations include cutting back on ‘unsigned’ editorials that don’t state who wrote them, limiting political endorsements to local races and eliminating syndicated national columns. Gannett has also urged its newspapers to stop publishing letters to the editor online, restricting them to print editions except in rare cases,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.
As a result, some of the papers owned by Gannett “have begun to radically shrink and reimagine their editorial sections” and are now “publishing them on fewer days each week and dropping traditional features such as syndicated columns and editorial cartoons.”
“Even political endorsements and letters to the editor are being scaled back,” according to the Post.
Why this request? Some wonder whether it has anything to do with the company’s stock trading at a record low:
Gannett trades at a 52-week low – $3.41 – during a widespread market dive. https://t.co/1RxMwHawOo
— Jeffrey Platsky (@JeffPlatsky) June 10, 2022
The Post for its part notes that during a Gannett meeting in April of a “committee of editors” from across the country claimed editors said point-blank that the American people don’t want to be lectured to by journalists.
“Readers don’t want us to tell them what to think. They don’t believe we have the expertise to tell anyone what to think on most issues. They perceive us as having a biased agenda,” they said.
This is true, for the most part. Data from Gallup shows that of all Americans, only a majority of Democrats place their “trust in mass media.”
GALLUP: “In all, 7% of U.S. adults say they have “a great deal” and 29% “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in newspapers, television and radio news reporting.”
When is the last time you heard any corporate media outlet engage in self-critique to ask why this is happening? pic.twitter.com/M5ztNOe17q
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 7, 2021
Seems to me kind of like a crisis in journalism that only one faction — Democrats — overwhelmingly trust mass media outlets, while everyone else overwhelmingly thinks/knows they’re full of lies, deceit and propaganda: especially since the distrust and contempt are so deserved. pic.twitter.com/OZCJRO8aRA
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 7, 2021
The editors reportedly added that editorials and opinion columns are “among our least read content.” Worse, they’re “frequently cited” by readers as a reason for them cancelling their subscriptions to said paper.
There’s only one catch. The recommendations by Gannett are voluntary, and only a handful of papers have thus far chosen to apply them.
“While Gannett says the recommendations are not mandatory and most of its papers still have editorial and commentary pages, at least four of its newspapers have slashed their daily opinion offerings in recent days. More are expected to follow suit,” according to the Post.
Not included among them, it seems, is USA Today, which is notorious for its unappealingly “woke” perspective on matters:
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) March 16, 2022
“While USA TODAY and the USA TODAY Network’s editorial approach to opinion pages has evolved throughout the course of many years, our commitment to challenging convention and sharing diverse opinions has not changed. We continue to ensure we balance the need for locally focused topics with national themes of relevance that resonate with our readers and the communities we serve,” a spokesperson told Fox News.
The four slated to apply the recommendations include The Arizona Republic, the Cape Cod Times, the Treasure Coast Palm, and The New Bern Sun Journal.
“The Arizona Republic announced last week that it would publish an opinion section in its print edition only three days per week so it could ‘refocus our time and efforts on facilitating a deeper dialogue on key issues affecting Arizonans,'” the Post notes.
“Similarly, Gannett’s Cape Cod Times in Massachusetts and Treasure Coast Palm in Florida said last week they will publish editorial pages only two days a week. The New Bern Sun Journal in North Carolina will go to one day a week.”
Gannett owns hundreds of papers, including plenty of big-name ones like USA Today, the Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star, The Cincinnati Enquirer, and The Tennessean.
At the moment, The Arizona Republic appears to be the only big-name paper applying the recommendations.
The response to the big news about Gannett has provoked a divided response, with some lamenting the downsizing of opinion pieces, but the majority expressing support — and wishing TV outlets like CNN and MSNBC would follow suit:
Hmmmm. If @CNN and @MSNBC realized this, they might begin to actually challenge @FoxNews in the ratings. Why any business takes a side in today’s cultural/political world these days is beyond me. STAY OUT OF POLITICS.
— Eddie Gossage ™️ (@eddiegossage) June 10, 2022
Yes, less Jennifer Rubin and more Maggie Habberman! Editorial takes is what has ruined trust in media and divided audiences. Let readers form their own opinions and print less nasty.
— Spud (@BornSlippy123) June 9, 2022
You need to rethink it too WaPo. You could start by dumping these race-baiters. No one wants to hear from them. You are losing subscribers because of them. @kingc_i @KarenAttiah @CapehartJ and especially the king of all race-baiters @Eugene_Robinson.
— Johnny Appleseed (@DavidWa14401981) June 9, 2022
The only problem, of course, is that the establishment press routinely hides opinions behind a facade of objective, oftentimes so-called “expert”-based “journalisming,” as conservative commentator Ben Shapiro calls it.
It’s unclear whether Gannett’s recommendations apply to “journalisming” as well …
So much journalisming! https://t.co/5Ahiu1mNeh
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 19, 2021
Incredible levels of journalisming https://t.co/Ke2O9dQnGL
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) April 7, 2021
Incredible Journalisming™ https://t.co/fGrAKfzOir
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 6, 2021
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