According to news reports out there in cyberspace, SoftBank, a Tokyo investment company, has bought Fortress Investment Group, a New York private equity firm.
Fortress Investment Group owns Gatehouse Media, which is also called New Media Investment Group (a name that showed up after Gatehouse went bankrupt a few years ago). Gatehouse/New Media Investment Group owns the Rolla Daily News, the Waynesville/St. Robert Daily Guide and the Camdenton Lake Sun. It also owned the St. James Leader Journal, but it closed that paper in 2016.
Here's how the Boston Herald website covered the story: Massachusetts papers in 3.3B deal.
If you open up that link, you'll see how Boston University journalism professor Lou Ureneck assessed the situation for the newpapers:Maybe this is why my hours—I work as a part-time local government reporter for the Rolla Daily News—were cut from 20 to 14 per week this week.
The value of Gatehouse is a tiny, tiny fraction of the values (of) these companies. My sense is that it’s going to be more of the same: extremely lean news budgets and an emphasis on improving profit margins by reducing the number of reporters and editors.
I would be shocked if there was any reinvestment in these organizations as a consequence of this ownership change. … If Fortress remains in the driver’s seat with Gatehouse Media, we’ll see this continued policy of squeeze, squeeze, squeeze.
As with everything nowadays, this financial transaction has been linked to President Donald Trump by the bigwig, fancy-pants news media. Here's a report on the Boston Business Journals website, Japanese firm to buy Gatehouse parent company for 3.3 billion.
What a hoot!
I came to work full-time for the Rolla Daily News way back in the previous century on Aug. 1, 1984. My title at that time was "assistant city editor" and I worked for Stephen E. Sowers, who was the combination city editor and managing editor. He was in charge of the news/editorial side of the paper. His two brothers handled advertising and business. They and their mother owned the paper, which was started by Edward Sowers, the patriarch of the family. Mr. Sowers had passed away a couple of years before I went to work at the paper.
Then a couple or three years later the Sowers family sold the paper to American Publishing Co., which was part of a Canadian operation called Hollinger, which was owned by Conrad Black, a rich British lord or baron or some other kind of hobknobber.
Over the years, the company changed from American Publishing to Liberty Group Publishing to Gatehouse. Through all of those names, the company has been kind of a dairy operation, I think, more about milking cash from the herd of cash cows across the country than with reporting news.
Back in the days of the Sowers family ownership, some townspeople (not all, of course) complained about the family, especially my boss, Steve. The complainers said the community newspaper needed a new owner. They got a series of new owners, so I hope the townspeople are happy. I suspect, though, that a lot of the old-timers are wishing for the days of Steve and the Sowers family.
When I left my full-time job at the paper in December 2004, I wrote my final column and thanked Steve and the Sowers family. I referred to the then-current owners as a bunch of piss ants. I went back to work part-time in September 2010 and am still hanging on at 14 hours a week. I'll keep my opinions about all this to myself, though you are free to draw your own inferences.