Rhode Island’s largest newspaper, The Providence Journal, has been sold. The daily paper will soon be owned by the parent company of GateHouse Media.
New Media Investment Group agreed to buy The Providence Journal for $46 million in a deal expected to close later this year. The company already owns dozens of newspapers, including The Cape Cod Times, and The Taunton Gazette. The sale does not include the newspaper’s downtown Providence headquarters.
President of the Rhode Island Press Association, Paul Spetrini, said GateHouse is known for an earlier bankruptcy and newsroom layoffs that came with previous sales.
“What we don’t know is how it’s going to affect The Providence Journal. If The Providence Journal is left how it is,” said Spetrini, “they’ve had to deal with a lot of cutbacks in the last couple of years it’s affected their coverage to an extent, but they still put out a great paper and a great product.”
Spetrini said another big question is how large a role Gatehouse will play in the editorial process. “If they leave The Providence Journal decisions to the editorial staff, and they leave a lot of the discussions about content and what have you with the staff in place, it will be interesting to see if that has any affect whatsoever,” he said.
Dan Kennedy is a media analyst and professor of journalism at Northeastern University. He said that despite a history of cutting personnel Gatehouse media could capitalize on The Providence Journal’s current business printing other papers.
“Now that the journal is going to be owned by Gatehouse, it’s very interesting to look around and think about what other GateHouse papers it might print,” said Kennedy. “That’s a way of saving money without cutting into the journalistic mission.”
GateHouse currently owns numerous papers in Massachusetts such as The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, and The Enterprise in Brockton; both are currently printed by The Boston Globe.
Journal owner, A.H. Belo Corp. of Texas, announced the newspaper was up for sale in December. Long the state’s paper of record, The Providence Journal celebrated its 185th anniversary this week. The paper currently has a circulation of 72,000 daily, and 96,000 on Sundays.
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