June 29, 2015 Last Updated 8:43 am

Life of Gannett newspapers, separate from broadcast and digital brands, begins today

Broadcast properties are spunoff into a new company, TEGNA, which also get the digital media properties Cars.com and CareerBuilder.com

The spinoff of print from broadcast at Gannett is completed, with the newspaper company, minus its digital assets still to be called Gannett, and the broadcast arm, complete with digital media properties such as Cars.com, now called Tegna.

The spinoff may be the most cynical of all the print spinoffs so far, as the decision to have CareerBuilder.com and Car.com go with broadcast is illogical and clearly designed to benefit broadcast over print (Gannett is now saddled with supporting these digital properties while the new broadcast company gets most of the profits.


Location of Gannett newspaper properties

These spinoffs, let’s be honest, are not done to improve the business, but to be big paydays for the executives involved. Shareholders go along because they get stock in both companies and because dividends are promised.

So, what’s next for Gannett? Like Tribune Publishing, it will likely try to roll-up some newspaper properties, but likely also sell some, as well. Though “virtually debt-free”, Gannett will likely have to take on some debt in order to acquire properties that will enhance their position in certain markets. That would mean looking closely at what it owns and where.

Here is Gannett’s birth announcement:

MCLEAN, Va. – June 29, 2015  — Gannett Co., Inc. has completed the previously announced spin-off transaction, creating two publicly traded companies. The new Gannett, the largest and most diversified publishing company with a portfolio of 92 domestic media markets, Newsquest, a leading UK regional news publisher and our flagship national brand USA TODAY, is led by chief executive officer Robert Dickey, former president of the Gannett U.S. Community Publishing Division.

USAT-62915Also today, Gannett announced the creation of its nationwide USA TODAY Media Network, the largest local-to-national media network in the U.S. The network will be powered by an integrated and award-winning news organization with deep roots in 92 communities plus USA TODAY, one of the most recognized national media brands. This follows the recent acquisition of 11 markets through Digital First Media, and further underscores the unmatched local-to-national capabilities of the company.

“With more than 4,000 journalists across digital and print publications in more than 110 markets across the U.S. and U.K., plus the national reach of USA TODAY, Gannett is uniquely positioned as a next-generation media company,” said Dickey. “Together, we are moving forward as one unified organization with a commitment to strengthening and forging connections in every community that we serve. Over the next year, we will continue to innovate and invest in this network, push the boundaries of storytelling and how it’s experienced and diversify our offerings. We are proactively building a future in which media feels more personal, drives action and adapts to ever-evolving technologies and needs.”

Dickey will oversee an executive leadership team including:

  • Alison Engel, Chief Financial Officer. Engel formerly was senior vice president, chief financial officer & treasurer of A. H. Belo Corporation, and served that company following its spin-off in 2008 from Belo Corp.
  • Jamshid Khazenie, Chief Technology Officer. Khazenie joined old Gannett in 2014 as vice president of digital technology & operations. Prior to old Gannett, he served as vice president of digital media technologies at Turner Broadcasting Systems and led digital technology at Orbitz, US News and PBS.
  • David Payne, Chief Product Officer. Payne served as chief digital officer for old Gannett since 2011. He joined from ShortTail Media, Inc. where he served as president and CEO of the video ad technology start-up he co-founded in 2008. Prior to ShortTail, David was senior vice president and general manager of CNN.com.
  • Maribel Perez Wadsworth, Chief Strategy Officer. Wadsworth previously served as senior vice president of strategic initiatives, U.S. Community Publishing, since 2014. From 2012 to 2014, she served as vice president of audience development and engagement and helped lead development and implementation of old Gannett’s All Access Subscription Model and USA TODAY Local Edition. Wadsworth joined old Gannett in 2009.
  • Barbara Wall, Chief Legal Officer. Wall has served as vice president and senior associate general counsel for old Gannett since 2009 and joined the legal staff in 1985. Wall has represented old Gannett’s interests on a variety of issues, has written and lectured on the First Amendment, and has taught communications law at George Washington and American Universities.
  • Andy Yost, Chief Marketing Office. Yost previously was senior vice president of consumer marketing for old Gannett, where he was responsible for all subscriber sales and retention for the U.S. Community Publishing properties and USA TODAY. Yost came to old Gannett in 2014 from Viacom Media Networks, where he served as senior vice president, marketing, customer relationship management.
  • John Zidich, President of Domestic Publishing. Zidich was formerly chief executive of Republic Media & publisher of The Arizona Republic. Before coming to Phoenix, he served as president & publisher of the Reno (Nev.) Gazette-Journal, after starting his Gannett career in 1977 at the Stockton Record, formerly owned by old Gannett.
  • David Harmon, Chief People Officer. Harmon will join Gannett on July 15 from the Federal Reserve Board where he served as the chief human capital officer. Prior to that, he was executive vice president of human resources and corporate services at AOL.
  • Henry Faure Walker, Chief Executive Officer of Newsquest. Walker joined Newsquest in early 2014. Prior to joining Gannett, he was digital director for Johnston Press, another large regional publisher in the UK.

The new Gannett will be virtually debt-free with a highly focused operational strategy and significant flexibility to make strategic acquisitions. The company will also continue to invest in innovative storytelling, advertising solutions and diversified business opportunities to deliver attractive returns for shareholders.

Serving on the Gannett Board of Directors:

  • John Jeffry Louis, Chairman, Gannett, Co-founder and former chairman, Parson Capital Corporation.
  • Robert J. Dickey, Chief Executive Officer of Gannett.
  • John E. Cody, President & former Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Broadcast Music, Inc.
  • Lila Ibrahim, Chief Business Officer of Coursera.
  • Larry S. Kramer, former President and Publisher of USA TODAY, former president of CBS Digital Media and founder of CBS MarketWatch.
  • Tony A. Prophet, Corporate Vice President Education Marketing of Microsoft Corporation.
  • Debra A. Sandler, Chief Health and Wellbeing Officer of Mars, Inc.
  • Chloe R. Sladden, Co-founder of #angels and former Vice President, Media, of Twitter, Inc.
  • Greenhill & Co. is acting as financial advisor on the separation transaction and Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz is acting as legal advisor.

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