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Gannett Cuts Op-Ed Pages to the Bone
© Dave Whamond
When we noted earlier this week that The Canton Repository was drastically cutting its editorial and opinion pages (with a corresponding cut of editorial cartoons) we did note it was a Gannett newspaper. What we should have realized is that if one Gannett newspaper makes such a major decision it is probably a company-wide dictate.
Thus we have seen a number of Gannett newspapers follow suit, though the explanations and days of editorial cutbacks seem to be left to the individual editors. But basically syndicated content (columns and cartoons) will drop in favor of local content.
From The Treasure Coast Palm, which ironically illustrated their commentary on the growing e-editions and faltering hard copies with an RJ Matson cartoon:
© R. J. Matson
Starting Tuesday, we’ll tweak the Opinion pages to give our staff more time to focus on local journalism while having as little impact as possible in Opinion. We’ll also redouble our efforts to have greater balance on the pages.
Publishing only traditional commentary pages on Tuesdays and Fridays, instead of editorial pages. Editorial pages only will be published Wednesdays and Thursdays.
We will maintain four pages in Sunday Opinion Extra, but replace syndicated columns, which we paid for. We will publish fewer editorial cartoons, too [emphasis added].
From The New Bern Sun Journal:
Starting today, the New Bern Sun Journal is changing how it approaches opinion and editorial content. We will no longer publish a daily Viewpoints page with syndicated content. Instead, we’ll publish a page once a week that provides a variety of views on state, local and national issues.
The new approach will start this Sunday, with a weekly Viewpoints page in the print newspaper. On that page, we plan to continue publishing pieces from North Carolina columnists John Hood and Tom Campbell.
We will also seek guest columns on local issues from community members. We will select columns that offer a unique perspective and don’t rely on tired talking points.
© Dave Granlund
The Cape Code Times:
As of June 1, in response to the many Times reader comments, along with recent reader surveys that reveal what readers want from us, we are scaling back our opinion pages to provide the best forum possible for civil discourse about issues Cape Codders care about.
We will concentrate on providing opinion columns, Op-Ed pieces from experts and Letters to the Editor on Saturday and Sunday.
© The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Mike Luckovich
The Florida Times-Union flatly states they won’t have syndicated content:
We’ve found that fewer people are submitting letters to the editor and guest columns in recent years.
That’s leaving us often scrambling to fill seven days of editorial pages with columns from other newspapers. We have found it’s not the best use of our very limited resources.
We also no longer have access to syndicated content [emphasis added], though we had stopped running many syndicated columns years ago. But it does mean we’re losing syndicated cartoons. This has all made us rethink our editorial pages.
Beginning this week, we’re reducing to two the number of days we print editorial/opinion pages. We’re going to prioritize printing only local letters and guest columns written by people who live here in Northeast Florida and that are about local issues or state and national issues that affect our communities.
The Gannett cutting of nationally syndicated columns and cartoons was brought to our attention
by the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists:
Word has trickled down from Gannett (née GatehouseMedia) that, beginning June 1, they will be stripping out the daily editorial/opinion section in the print editions of all their daily papers. Gannett, the largest newspaper publisher in the country as measured by total daily circulation, announced their Op/Ed pages will now only appear in print on Wednesdays and Sundays. (If that— one cartoonist who freelances at a Gannett-owned paper said their editor told them it would only be Sunday.)
Cartoonists were swift to respond. “Bad news for editorial cartoonists for sure, as well as really horrible news for an informed citizenry in the communities these papers are supposed to serve,” wrote Jimmy Margulies, the award-winning political cartoonist who spent more than two decades on the staff of The Record in northern New Jersey, one of the papers hit by the cuts.
Another syndicated cartoonist, whose local newspaper was hit by Gannett’s big change, vented, “What I wanna know is, what does a newspaper become without an editorial page? #pennysaver.”
© Darrin Bell