Friday, July 18, 2008

From The Inside

Here's what the meltdown of Gatehouse Media, the Observer-Dispatch's parent company, looks like from the inside:

What’s scary to me is that I don’t know what this means for my paper and my job. If the company goes into debt, it could face liquidation. I can’t honestly believe there won’t be local town papers, but that could be the future. I’d hope a private company would pick up some of the papers but Boston suburbs might be doomed to only have the Boston Globe for news. And with the way the Globe is doing, who knows how long that will be going for.

All I know is that no local papers mean residents won’t get news about where they live in as in-depth of a manner as they do now. While some people might not open up the paper, choosing to simply drive over the one in their driveway, many other people do care and read the papers. I hope they’d miss it if that happened.

Here's another look:

GateHouse Media, the corporate parent of my newspaper, just got another ding. The New York Stock Exchange won't let the penny stock trade on the floor any more unless it can stay above $1.10 for an entire day. That's looking unlikely, so it's possible the stock could be delisted.
What a ride it's been -- from a $20 IPO just three years ago to getting thrown out of the NYSE. Sweet.

I imagine the staff at the Observer-Dispatch is feeling much the same. I'm sure the upper management of the paper will survive a liquidation just fine, but I doubt that many of the actual content and production workers will get deals anything close to what they deserve. Even under a buyout scenario, the only option that would allow them to keep their jobs, they're facing yet more uncertainties just over a year since the Gannet/Gatehouse takeover.

Update: Google Finance is reporting that Gatehouse Media closed at 97 cents today, giving it a market cap of $56.4 million dollars. The company has over a billion dollars in debt.