Learning the news: Changes in the local landscape

The local media landscape is about to change in a big way and, we think, with very positive results, writes Roger Plothow.

Adams Publishing Group, the company that bought the Post Register, Jefferson Star, Shelley Pioneer and Challis Messenger two years ago, will close on a deal to buy the Pioneer News Group at the end of this month. Included in that purchase are the Idaho State Journal, Rexburg Standard-Journal and Teton Valley News in Driggs. Other properties of local interest include the Preston Citizen, the Logan (Utah) Herald-Journal, the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle and the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa.

This will open a whole new set of opportunities for this new cluster of regional newspapers and web operations. We will be able to coordinate news coverage from Salmon to Bozeman, Montana to Logan, Utah and all the way to the Treasure Valley. Advertisers will be able to gain access to those markets through a single sales professional, who can mix and match markets, products and media simply and quickly.

We’re pretty excited about all the possibilities the acquisition presents – it’s a case in which a rising tide will, indeed, raise all ships. It’ll take awhile to get all the details worked out, but most of the internal steps should be completed sometime early next year.

This clustering of media is hardly a new thing. It’s been going on since the ’80s in all legacy media. In fact, it’s unusual that it took so long to come to the Post Register. The Pioneer News Group has long been owned by members of the Scripps family, whose newspaper ties go back to the 1870s.

The change should be unnoticeable to our readers, except for more expansive local and regional news coverage. It will be more obvious to our advertisers, who will benefit from a wide array of new options.

The Post Register already has the largest newsroom and biggest advertising staff in eastern Idaho. In November, those numbers will more than double, and that doesn’t include the resources based in Utah, Montana and Nampa.

As I told our staff last week, there’s just not a down side to this deal for our employees, readers, online viewers, or advertisers.

What does this have to do with media literacy and learning the news? Everything. Understanding where your news is coming from and knowing who is producing it is a vital part of media literacy. We’ve been collaborating with some other Idaho newspapers on Idaho news for years now, but there’s nothing like collaborating as true corporate partners.

Consolidation has a bad connotation to consumers, and for good reason. It’s hard to argue that airline consolidation has been good for travelers or that the consolidation of national media has been good for news consumers. But it’s not universally bad, and it’s sometimes just plain necessary.

Roger Plothow is editor and publisher of the Post Register. This is part of a weekly year-long series on media literacy.