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Gannett, the media giant that owns hundreds of newspapers across the country, including USA Today, is reportedly downsizing its op-ed pages in an effort to combat the perception of having political bias.
The Washington Post reported Thursday that newspapers “have begun to slash and reimagine their editorial sections, running them on fewer days each week and removing traditional features like syndicated columns and editorial cartoons,” noting that “[e]even political endorsements and letters to the editor are shrinking.”
The Post reported that a “committee of editors” from several newspapers met for a meeting in April and concluded that “readers don’t want us to tell them what to think” and that they “perceive that we have a skewed agenda.”
The committee also found that editorials and columns are “frequently cited” by readers as the reason they cancel subscriptions to various newspapers even though they are “among our least read content.”
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The report listed actions that several Gannett newspapers had taken, such as the Arizona Republic announcing last week that it would include opinion pages in its print edition only three days a week. Newspapers like Massachusetts’ Cape Cod Times and Florida’s Treasure Coast Palm cut it down to two days a week, while others like North Carolina’s New Bern Sun Journal only do it one day a week.
The Gannett committee urged its newspapers to reverse political endorsements by keeping them local and refraining from endorsing the president, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. He also called for newspapers to stop printing syndicated columns and restrict letters to the editor to rare occasions in print editions.
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Gannett’s internal research found that young readers in particular “often cannot tell the difference between news and opinion, especially online,” and readers “often mistakenly believe that news is dictated by the editorial side of the newspaper,” according to the post. .
Randy Bergmann warned Gannett that downsizing editorial pages, which he oversaw for 18 years at New Jersey’s Asbury Park Press before being fired in 2020, would be a mistake, telling the Post: “I argued that thought leadership was one of the most important functions of the newspaper… I saw the impact of the editorials that I wrote at the local level.”
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A Gannett spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “While the editorial approach of the USA TODAY and USA TODAY Network opinion pages has evolved over many years, our commitment to challenging convention and sharing diverse opinions has not We continue to make sure we balance the need for locally focused topics with nationally relevant topics that resonate with our readers and the communities we serve.”
Notable newspapers owned by Gannett along with USA Today include The Des Moines Register, The Detroit Free Press, The Indianapolis Star, The Tennessean, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The Louisville Courier-Journal, and The Cincinnati Enquirer.
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