Jan 20, 2022

Media: Imagine if Alabama Public Radio and The Montgomery Advertiser merged....

      So far as I know, nobody has proposed that merger, but a similar, though much larger deal, is happening in Chicago, as The Washington Post reported:

In an unusual merger that some hope could serve as a national model to preserve local journalism, Chicago’s NPR station plans to acquire one of the city’s major daily newspapers.

On Tuesday, the board of directors for Chicago Public Media, the umbrella organization for WBEZ, approved moving forward with the acquisition of the Chicago Sun-Times. The deal is expected to be complete by Jan. 31.

Chicago is one of the nation’s largest media markets, and WBEZ — which started in the 1940s as an arm of the Chicago Board of Education — is where some of public radio’s most notable programs were formed, including “This American Life,” “Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me” and “Serial.”

The Sun-Times has also been publishing since the 1940s. It is known as much for its hard-hitting tabloid-like coverage as its eight Pulitzer prizes — and being the longtime home of celebrated film critic Roger Ebert. Lately, however, it has endured the same financial tumult as many other local newspapers.

     Why would a merger in Montgomery be of interest to The Advertiser? They've been cutting back in many ways ever before the paper became part of Gannett. 

     Most recently Gannett announced they will no longer publish and deliver a Saturday newspaper in 136 of the 253 markets in which they own a paper, including Montgomery. That will end their reign as the largest daily newspaper in Alabama when the Saturday paper goes away in March.

     Dramatic as that cutback will be, the step taken in Chicago would be  much, much larger were it to occur in Montgomery.

     But who knows? Alabama Public Radio is a big operation, with multiple stations:

map_only_3.jpg      Now most of those Alabama public  stations would not likely be interested in owning or operating a Montgomery-centric newspaper. 

     Then again, what would you have said a month ago if I told you the public radio station in Chicago would own The Chicago Sun-Times?

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