From then till now
Gannett Co., Inc. is one of the most diverse news and information companies in the USA. A company rich in its diversity of people and communities, Gannett serves consumers and businesses through its operations in 33 states, Guam and the United Kingdom.
Gannett traces its origins to 1906, when Frank Gannett and his associates bought a half interest in the Elmira Gazette in Elmira, N.Y. From this small venture, Gannett and his associates expanded gradually, purchasing another newspaper there and merging them to form the Star-Gazette. In 1912, Gannett bought The Ithaca Journal, in nearby Ithaca, N.Y.
In 1918 Frank Gannett and his associates moved to Rochester, N.Y. They purchased two newspapers, merged them into the Rochester Times-Union and consolidated their holdings under the name Empire State Group. In 1923, Frank Gannett purchased the holdings of his associates, forming Gannett Co., Inc. At that time, the company consisted of six newspapers located in four upstate New York cities, including Utica.
Frank Gannett long ago established a policy for local editorial autonomy. It was his belief that a newspaper best serves its community if its publisher, editor and employees are locally oriented and understand the community and its people.
To help him manage his new company, Gannett appointed Frank Tripp general manager. Tripp was to become Gannett's closest associate.
During the next 25 years, Gannett expanded throughout the northeastern United States. In 1947, when Paul Miller left his job as Washington bureau chief and assistant general manager of The Associated Press to join Gannett as executive assistant to Frank Gannett, the company operated 21 newspapers and seven radio stations.
Early in its history, Gannett became a major innovator of technology in the newspaper industry. In 1929, Frank Gannett invested in the development of the teletypesetter. Later, Gannett newsrooms were equipped with shortwave radio sets to speed reporting of distant events. Printing presses were adapted for color at the Gannett Rochester newspapers as early as 1938. And in 1945, Gannett newspapers became the first newspaper group to be united by the Telephoto Network. Gannett radio stations were early pioneers in broadcasting the latest news and the Gannett corporate airplane aided in the timely gathering of news from across the region.
This spirit of technological innovation continued throughout the years as Gannett became a leader in the invention and utilization of technology, enabling its newspapers to produce quality news products more efficiently. Shortly before the death of Frank Gannett in 1957, Paul Miller was elected president and chief executive officer of Gannett Co., Inc. It was during the Miller years -- the 1960s -- that Gannett moved from being a regional newspaper group to developing a national base.
As the company increased in size, so did its commitment to quality. The Gannett National Service was founded in 1943 and provided Gannett newspapers with national enterprise and stories with a local angle from its Washington office and bureaus across the nation.
Gannett founded its first newspaper on Florida's space coast in 1966. Under the direction of Allen H. Neuharth, then president of Gannett Florida, the new paper became profitable in 33 months. TODAY became the first newspaper to win the National Newspaper Association general excellence award for two consecutive years. It has since been redesigned as FLORIDA TODAY.
With 33 dailies and 12 weeklies, six radio stations and two television stations, Gannett closed out the 1960s -- a decade during which the company's pattern of growth, technological innovation and journalistic quality continued. The company went public in 1967 and its signature -- GCI -- appeared on the New York Stock Exchange in 1969.
In 1970, Paul Miller became Gannett's chairman, continuing as chief executive officer. Allen H. Neuharth, who had been executive vice president since 1966, became president and chief operating officer.
Under the leadership of Neuharth, who was named CEO in 1973 and chairman in 1979, Gannett underwent a steady period of growth and diversification.
In 1971 Gannett merged with Federated Publications; in 1977 it merged with the Speidel Newspaper Group. In 1979 Gannett merged with Combined Communications in what was then the largest merger in the communications industry.
With the opportunity for growth came the opportunity for diversification. In 1979 Gannett owned 78 daily newspapers in 33 states and Guam, a national news service, seven television and 14 radio stations, outdoor advertising plants in the United States and Canada, 21 weekly newspapers and the research firm of Louis Harris & Associates.
In 1986, Neuharth relinquished his role as CEO to John J. Curley, who had been president and chief operating officer since 1984. Curley succeeded Neuharth as chairman on April 1, 1989. Like Neuharth, Curley came up through the news side of Gannett, serving as editor and publisher of several Gannett newspapers and the first editor of USA TODAY. Under his direction, Gannett News Service won the coveted Pulitzer Prize for meritorious public service, the first ever awarded to a wire service. Gannett media organizations in total have earned 56 Pulitzer Prizes overall.
Just as diversification led to increased opportunities in the 1970s, Gannett continued to grow, diversify and provide opportunity to all in the 1980s. But the major undertaking in the history of the company was the bold creation of a new national newspaper at a time when some skeptics were beginning to write the obituary of the daily newspaper.
In a cottage in Cocoa Beach, Fla., USA TODAY was conceived under the code name "Project NN." After two years of research on what readers wanted, what advertisers needed and what technology permitted, on Sept. 15, 1982, USA TODAY reached up from its headquarters overlooking the nation's capital, and grabbed an orbiting satellite to present information-hungry readers news about the USA in an entirely different way.
To further serve the people and communities where it operates, in late 1990 the company announced the formation of Gannett Communities Fund. In 2006, this program was renamed the Gannett Foundation. Through its Community Grant Program, Gannett Foundation supports non-profit activities in the communities in which Gannett does business. Through its other programs, the Foundation invests in the future of the media industry, encourages employee giving, reacts to natural and other disasters, and contributes to a variety of charitable causes.
With executive travel increasing between Rochester and Arlington, Va., where USA TODAY is based, Gannett decided in 1986 to relocate its corporate headquarters to Arlington. In 2001, the company moved to a new Gannett/USA TODAY headquarters in McLean, Va., about seven miles from Arlington.
In December 1995, under John Curley's leadership, Gannett acquired Multimedia, Inc., a diversified media company based in Greenville, S.C. Gannett gained 10 daily newspapers, five television stations, two radio stations and cable television systems reaching more than 460,000 subscribers in five states. In the deal, Gannett also acquired Multimedia Security Service, which was later sold. The cable division was sold to Cox Communications in January 2000.
In 1996, Gannett joined Knight-Ridder and Landmark Communications as partners in InfiNet, an Internet access and service venture designed to help put newspapers online. Today, all of Gannett brands have affiliated digital products and USATODAY.com is one of the most popular news sites on the Web. In 2003, Gannett became the sole owner of InfiNet.
In December 1997, Gannett sold its last five radio stations to Evergreen Media, ending its radio ownership.
Also in 1997, Curley relinquished his role as president to Douglas McCorkindale. On June 1, 2000, Curley turned over the title of chief executive officer to McCorkindale, who continued as vice chairman and had been chief financial and administrative officer since 1985. Curley retired as chairman in early 2001 and McCorkindale became chairman, president and CEO.
In mid-1999, Gannett U.K. Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary, acquired Newsquest plc, one of the largest regional newspaper publishers in England. Its portfolio of more than 200 titles added 11 daily newspapers to Gannett. Newsquest also publishes a variety of non-daily publications, including Berrow's Worcester Journal, the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world. In 2014, Newsquest launched The National, a new daily newspaper in Scotland. In 2015, Newsquest acquired Romanes Media Group, a local news publishing business operating in Scotland, Berkshire and Northern Ireland. Its portfolio comprises one daily, 19 weekly paid-fors and nine weekly free products, in addition to associated web sites.
In June 2000, Gannett acquired Newscom, the eighth largest regional newspaper publisher in the United Kingdom with 99 publications including four dailies. Newscom is now part of the Newsquest operation, which has a network of award-winning Web sites and has become the second largest regional newspaper company in the United Kingdom. In March, 2003, Newsquest acquired SMG Publishing, which added three Scottish regional newspapers, The Herald, Sunday Herald and Evening Times, as well as a series of non-daily publications, to the company.
Also in June, 2000, McCorkindale announced plans to acquire 19 daily newspapers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Louisiana, Maryland and Utah from Thomson Newspapers Inc. Three weeks later, the company agreed to acquire Central Newspapers Inc. with its flagship papers, The Arizona Republic and The Indianapolis Star. "We consider ourselves very fortunate to be able to add such high caliber people and operations to our company," McCorkindale said. By the end of his first summer as CEO, McCorkindale had completed $4.5 billion worth of acquisitions.
On July 15, 2005, McCorkindale relinquished his roles as President and CEO to Craig Dubow, who was President and CEO of Gannett Broadcasting. A little less than a year later, McCorkindale announced his retirement from the board and the company, effective June 30, 2006. The board of directors elected Dubow its Chairman, effective July 1, 2006.
Dubow continued as Chairman and CEO of the company until Oct. 6, 2011, when he stepped down and Gracia Martore took the helm as President and CEO. Martore had joined Gannett in 1985 after 12 years in banking and became chief financial officer in 2003, executive vice president in 2006, and president and chief operating officer in 2010.
On Feb. 2, 2012, Martore hosted the company’s first Investor Day in New York City where she and her senior leadership team presented the company’s new growth strategy. During the Investor Day, Gannett leadership discussed a detailed strategy focused on generating sustainable revenue growth, increasing profitability and creating shareholder value. The strategy’s three components were: (1) enhancing its core by stabilizing publishing while continuing to grow broadcast and diversified digital businesses; (2) accelerating growth by entering or expanding into related high-potential businesses; and (3) maintaining focus on operating efficiency and asset optimization.
On Aug. 5, 2014, Gannett announced its plan to create two publicly traded companies: one exclusively focused on its broadcasting and digital businesses, and the other on its publishing business and affiliated digital assets.
On June 29, 2015, Gannett separated into two companies. The former head of U.S. Community Publishing, Robert Dickey, was named to lead the “New Gannett” as president and CEO. Bob Dickey became president and CEO of Gannett following the company's separation in 2015.
He had been president of the Gannett U.S. Community Publishing Division, formerly Newspaper Division, from 2008 -- 2015, where he oversaw 92 daily media organizations and their associated digital products along with approximately 650 non-daily products. Previously he served as senior group president, Pacific Group, and chairman of Phoenix Newspapers, Inc. from 2005-2008; president and publisher of The Desert Sun, Palm Springs, CA, from 1993-2005 and group vice president of the Pacific Group, 1997-2005.
The separation of the Publishing business was implemented through a tax-free distribution of Gannett’s Publishing assets to shareholders. The transaction created two focused companies with increased opportunities to grow organically across all businesses as well as pursue strategic acquisitions.
The Publishing business and its affiliated digital assets retained the Gannett name and the company continues to trade on the NYSE under the ticker symbol GCI. Today, Gannett owns the iconic USA TODAY, 92 strong local media organizations in 33 states and Guam, and 160 local news brands in the U.K.