This section requires expansion with: information on Gannett's early history (1923-1986). (October 2012)
Gannett Company, Inc. was founded in 1923 by Frank Gannett in Rochester, New York as an outgrowth of a newspaper business he had begun in Elmira, New York in 1906. Gannett, who was known as a conservative, gained fame and fortune by purchasing small independent newspapers and developing them into a large chain, a 20th-century trend that helped the newspaper industry remain financially viable. By 1979, the chain had grown to 79 newspapers.
In 1979, Gannett acquired Combined Communications Corp., operator of 17 television stations, as well as an outdoor advertising division, for $370 million. (The outdoor advertising became known as Gannett Outdoor, before being acquired by Outdoor Systems (previously a division of 3M), before the company was sold to Infinity Broadcasting, which later became part of Viacom, and is currently a part of CBS Corporation.)
Beginning in 2005 at the Fort Myers News-Press, Gannett pioneered the mojo concept of mobile multimedia journalists, reporters who were initially untethered from conventional newsrooms and drove around their communities filing hyperlocal news via Wi-Fi in various formats including text for print publication, still photos for print and online publication, and audio and video for the News-Press website. The practice has spread throughout the chain.
On March 7, 2011, Gannett introduced its new logo for the company, which replaced the stylized "G" logo that was in use since the 1970s (which was notably used on its TV stations as a corporate/local ID for many years, with different animations). The rebranding also introduced a new tagline for the company: "It's all within reach."
In 2011, Gannett was criticized for laying off 700 U.S. employees as a cost-cutting measure after having increased executive salaries and bonuses. Bob Dickey, Gannett's U.S. newspapers division president, was paid $3.4 million in 2010, up from $1.9 million the previous year. In the memo announcing the layoffs, Dickey wrote, "While we have sought many ways to reduce costs, I regret to tell you that we will not be able to avoid layoffs."
Gannett Logo used until March 2011.
In February 2012, Gannett announced that it would be implementing a paywall system across all of its newspaper websites, with non-subscriber access will be limited to between five and fifteen articles per month, varying by newspaper. The USA Today website will be the only one continuing to allow unrestricted access.
On March 24, 2012, the company announced that it would discipline 25 employees in Wisconsin who had signed the petition to recall Governor Scott Walker, stating that this open public participation in a political process was a violation of the company's code of journalistic ethics and that their primary responsibility as journalists was to maintain credibility and public trust in themselves and the organization.
On August 21, 2012, Gannett acquired Blinq Media.
Around the first week of October 2012, Gannett entered a dispute against Dish Network regarding compensation fees and Dish's AutoHop commercial-skip feature on its Hopper digital video recorders. Gannett ordered that Dish discontinue AutoHop on the account that it is affecting advertising revenues for Gannett's television station. Gannett threatens to pull all of its stations should the skirmish continue beyond October 7 and Dish and Gannett fail to reach an agreement. The two parties eventually reached an agreement after extending the deadline for a few hours.
Acquisition of Belo Corporation
On June 13, 2013, Gannett announced plans to buy Dallas-based Belo Corporation for $1.5 billion and the assumption of debt. The purchase would add 20 additional stations to Gannett's portfolio and make the company the fourth largest television broadcaster in the U.S. with 43 stations. Because of ownership conflicts that exist in markets where both Belo and Gannett own television stations and newspapers, the use of a third-party company (Sander Media, LLC, owned by former Belo executive Jack Sander) as a licensee to buy stations to be operated by the owner of a same-market competitor and concerns about any possible future consolidation of operations of Gannett- and Belo-owned properties in markets where both own television stations or collusion involving the Gannett and Sander stations in retransmission consent negotiations, anti-media-consolidation groups (such as Free Press) and pay television providers (such as Time Warner Cable and DirecTV) have called for the FCC to block the acquisition.
On December 16, 2013, the United States Department of Justice announced that Gannett, Belo, and Sander would need to divest Belo's station in St. Louis, KMOV, to a government-approved third-party that would be barred from entering into any agreements with Gannett, in order to fully preserve competition in advertising sales with Gannett-owned KSDK. The deal was approved by the FCC on December 20, and it was completed on December 23.