Late last night, rumors began circulating through the Ogle Mole Network that The Oklahoman was having a big staff meeting this morning. The thought was the paper was either going to announce more layoffs or an acquisition. Based on this morning's news, it looks like it's both.
Earlier today, The Oklahoman announced it has been acquired by Gatehouse Media. It's the huge, out-of-state conglomerate to which "The State's Most Trusted News" outsourced it's page design, copy editing and layout back in 2016. It's also the owner of The Oklahoman's main business news rival – The Journal Record.
The Oklahoman Media Company has been sold to the fastest-growing publishing company in the country, New York-based GateHouse Media, for an undisclosed amount, executives announced Thursday.
The sale will close Oct. 1. GateHouse Media publishes 145 daily publications. It operates in more than 570 markets across 37 states, reaching more than 23 million people on a weekly basis and serving more than 220,000 business customers.
GateHouse Media's parent company is publicly traded New Media Investment Group (NEWM) of New York.
"The Oklahoman has served its readers with great ambition and integrity since before statehood. We're proud that GateHouse Media will be able to continue The Oklahoman's heritage," said Kirk Davis, CEO, GateHouse Media.
The Oklahoman, NewsOK, Big Wing and The Oklahoman Direct will extend GateHouse's presence in Oklahoma.
Gatehouse is notorious in journalism circles for its corporate, cut-throat business practices. Its playbook seems to be acquire a local paper, and then immediately begin cutting costs and staff so they can make as much money as possible. As a result, it should come as no surprise that we have learned via the Ogle Mole Network that several prominent staffers and reporters have already been let go.
Here's a list of names that have been tossed around the Ogle Mole Network so far:
Scott Briggs – C.O.O. Matt Dinger – Staff Writer Alan Herzberger – Vice President of Audience Development Matt Patterson – Enterprise Reporter Matt Price – Entertainment Editor Mike Shannon – Managing Editor Robbie Tramel – Assistant Managing Editor
According to a Mole, Shannon and Tramel's departures are technically being considered "early retirements." Either way, our thoughts go out to the seven men above. As I say every time I write about Oklahoman layoffs, I was riffed from my "real" job back in 2011, and in hindsight, it was one of the best things that happened to me. Hopefully the same goes for them.
Anyway, I guess the big question is how the acquisition will affect that paper's reporting, news coverage and editorial coverage. The previous owner, Philip Anschutz, was about as conservative as the Gaylords. Will the paper and its editorial board still have a staunch moralist, conservative bend, and continue to be a mouthpiece for the GOP? Considering this guy is still the publisher (for now), probably so.
Update 1: According to an Ogle Mole, the layoffs may now total over 30. Still trying to verify, but the source claims "All but 2 of the web programmers, 11 bigwing, 14 newsroom, 1 photographer."
Update 2: Here's an email that Gatehouse sent to employees earlier today: