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Gannett and GateHouse Media in Merger Talks

A merger would create a local news powerhouse at a time when the broader industry is struggling

Local newspaper giants Gannett Co. and GateHouse Media have held talks about the possibility of a merger, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.

If successful, the combined entity would be the largest publisher of local newspapers in the United States by far. GateHouse currently publishes 156 daily papers, while Gannett owns USA Today, one of the largest papers in circulation in the U.S.

Reps for both companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap. The news did not appear to make a dent in broader market perceptions on Friday as stocks for both Gannett and Gatehouse parent company, New Media Investment Group, opened sharply down.

The merger, if it does take place, would be a coming together of necessity as both companies have struggled in recent years against inexorably declining print sales and the decimation of local media across the country.

Earlier this month, GateHouse laid off at least 115 staffers across their titles around the country. That figure, however, was nothing to the 400 staffers axed by Gannett in January, according to figures from the New York Post.

Amid these troubles Gannett has also faced takeover efforts, most seriously from the hedge fund backed Digital First Media in March. The company has become notorious for treatment of local papers, like the Denver Post, seeking profits through savage staff cuts and hollowing out coverage.