When GateHouse Media last November bought The Salina Journal, Hutchinson News and four other remnants of what was once the Harris Newspaper Group. The announcement dripped with the usual platitudes about “synergy… teamwork… energy… opportunity.” More, the employees at The Journal, Hutchinson News, Garden City Telegram, Hays Daily News, Ottawa Herald and Burlington (Ia.) Hawk-Eye, would “have the opportunity” to keep their jobs.
In reality, GateHouse is a huge corporation with more than 550 newspapers in 36 states, and whose parent is owned by a Japanese bank; job security at newly acquired “properties” is slim. Such acquisitions always mean people will lose employment and newspapers will lose their heft.
By mid-May, GateHouse had started firing people, a lot of them, and announced that the city desks at Salina, Hutchinson and Garden City would be shut down, their “functions” moved to GateHouse’s central “design facility” in Austin, Tex. Such “functions” involve newspaper layout, story placement, headline writing, copy editing; the soul of a newspaper, its institutional memory, historical reference and local passions lie in the people of a city desk.
The best newspapers speak with authority, accuracy, and a commitment to local readers. They write the diary of their community. How odd now, a Kansas diary “designed” in Texas.