Some Gannett Massachusetts Weekly Newspapers Will End Print Publication


Nearly 20 publications will cease publication in May and nine other newspapers merge into four newspapers.

Gannett is closing the printing operations of nearly 20 Massachusetts weekly newspapers starting in May. Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo

Starting in early May, at least 19 Massachusetts weekly newspapers will shut down their print publications and go entirely digital. Nine other weeklies will be merged into four newspapers.

According to notices posted on the newspapers’ websites, the move “reaffirms” the commitment to “the sustainable future of local news.” The newspapers are all owned by Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper chain whose headlining newspaper is USA Today.

“Now, more than ever, it is essential to support local journalism through subscriptions and advertising,” reads the statement posted by each newspaper on their Wicked Local sites.

Dan Kennedy, a journalism professor at Northeastern University and a keen observer of local news, said that in theory the shutdowns made sense. But instead of just reducing local newspapers’ printing costs, Kennedy said the recent changes are also limiting media coverage.

“What they claim to be doing, which is getting rid of the legacy costs of printing while maintaining and even increasing their commitment to local coverage, I would say is great,” Kennedy said. in an interview with “But that’s not what they do. They are eliminating print newspapers, even as they continue to reduce their news coverage. »

In a statement, Bernie Szachara, president of Gannett US Publishing Operations, said the changes are designed to “better align our product portfolio with our ongoing digital transformation.”

“Strategies for reaching our audiences have evolved significantly, along with the capabilities of our improved digital marketing solutions,” Szachara said. “We remain committed to the future of local journalism and encourage our readers to continue to support our trusted, accurate and community-focused news sources across all of our platforms.”

Gannett also said subscribers would be notified of the change by mail.

The recent announcement follows another change at many of Gannett’s papers in Massachusetts — almost all weekly staff reporters at Gannett’s newspapers in the state were resigned to regional beats. For example, a reporter originally assigned to cover a community like Bedford or Burlington may be reassigned to cover public safety or education in the area.

Many soon-to-be-shutdown print newspapers have been what Kennedy described as “zombie newspapers” in recent years, meaning they produced very little local content. Still, Kennedy said, Gannett’s recent moves are a success for local journalism.

“We may be intensely interested in national news — certainly these days we’re intensely interested in international news — but our lives are lived in our communities,” Kennedy said. “If we don’t know what’s going on at the town hall or the school board and that sort of thing, then we don’t have the information we need to govern ourselves.”

The newspapers will distribute their last printed issues the first week of May, according to statements. While these local news sources are dwindling, Kennedy noted that there is no shortage of independent news sites in Massachusetts.

“I just hope that as Gannett continues to shrink, more people think about it and say, ‘We could do this in our town,'” Kennedy said. “You don’t necessarily need to have gone to journalism school, … I think all you need is the right mindset, dedication and, of course, time.”

Here are the articles ending the print publication:

  • Bedford Timer
  • Beacon (Acton and Boxborough)
  • Lighthouse Villager (Maynard and Stow)
  • Billerica Minuteman
  • Brookline Tab
  • Burlington Union
  • sculptor journalist
  • Country Gazette (Bellingham)
  • Eagle-independent (Chelmsford, Littleton and Westford)
  • Kingston Journalist
  • Needham time
  • Newton tab
  • Sudbury Town Crier
  • Waltham Newsstand
  • Watertown Tab
  • Wayland Town Crier
  • Weston Town Crier
  • Transcript and Bulletin (Dedham, Westwood and Norwood)
  • Times lawyer (Walpole and Sharon)

Here are the merged weekly logs:

  • Lawyer and Star (Arlington Lawyer and Winchester Star)
  • Coastal Mariner (Marshfield Mariner, Scituate Mariner, and Cohasset Mariner)
  • Free Press & Advertiser (Saugus Advertiser and Melrose Free Press & Observer)
  • Transcript and journal (Medford Transcript and Somerville Journal)

Jacob L. Thornton