Herald-Times building scooped up by MCCSC for 2.9 million

The Monroe County Community School Corporation has authorized purchasing the building housing the Herald-Times local newspaper for 2.9 million dollars. According to the MCCSC, funds from the referendum were not used to buy the property.  

The newspaper building was sold in 2019 for 1,463,500-dollars, and the sale was signed off on by then Herald-Times publisher and Hoosier Times President Cory Bollinger, according to public records.

MCCSC says the property will be used as a welcome center, meeting room space, and building services space. No word on if the MCCSC will scrap the printing press in the building. It’s also unclear if the building will be torn down.

The Schurz family sold the newspaper to investment company owned GateHouse Media, Inc. in January 2019, and then later, GateHouse bought Gannett and changed the company name to Gannett. The Herald-Times has been in the building at 1900 S. Walnut Street for decades. The building was part of the 2019 sale. Before the newspapers were sold, Schurz unloaded their television stations for nearly half a billion dollars.

In 1983 150 people worked in the building, and now less than a dozen employees utilize the space. The once bustling parking lot of the community newspaper is now empty on most days, and the marquee on the front of the building reading, Herald-Times, is no longer illuminated at night. The printing press was idled in 2020, and the newspaper is printed somewhere else.

The newspaper was once one of the most profitable newspapers owned by Schurz Communications making millions in profits each year, but profits declined after Craigslist destroyed classified advertising revenue, and then Facebook and Google hoovered up most digital advertising revenues as print advertisers cut their budgets.

The newspaper was put up for sale sometime in 2017 or 2018, but employees were not told about the sale until after it was sold. The first clue employees had the newspaper might be for sale was when a surveying crew showed up at the Herald-Times, and then the Bedford Times-Mail. But, before the sale, Schurz went on a buying spree gobbling up the Spencer, Ellettsville, and other newspapers, then cutting staff, and expenses. Eventually, the Ellettsville newspaper was closed entirely by Gannett.

Since GateHouse/Gannett bought the Herald-Times, dozens of employees have been either laid off, or left for other jobs, and were not replaced.

A quarter of the newspapers in the United States, about 2500, have closed in the past few years.

Most recently a full-time local sportswriter and a full-time local education reporter were laid off. Then Gannett recently offered buyouts across the company, however, the newspaper only has a handful of reporters, and one photographer left. In the 1990s the HT employed more photographers than the number of reporters now working there. The copy desk was outsourced, and the newspaper is no longer designed locally.

Recently, Gannett told all workers to take a week off unpaid in December.

The digital operations were outsourced to a remote hub, which just announced its intent to unionize.

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/voluntarily-recognize-the-midwest-digital-guild?fbclid=IwAR3l_fcSWqRZ6Td-_TA5MM29dYLq6tAAQ8KaCOQMmZBZv2c54BWAM6d9eSI

Often the print product has content from other Gannett newspapers. Although Gannett owns hundreds of newspapers, it employs fewer journalists than the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.

Sources who work for the company told the Bloomingtonian the Herald-Times is currently searching for office space in Bloomington.

Workers could be seen over the last several days emptying out the building.

More about the declining state of local journalism in the United States:

https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2022/06/newspapers-close-decline-in-local-journalism/

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2022/jun/30/newspapers-closing-us-rate-two-a-week

https://www.poynter.org/locally/2021/the-coronavirus-has-closed-more-than-100-local-newsrooms-across-america-and-counting/

https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2022/04/13/what-happens-when-local-newspapers-shut-down-communities-become-news-deserts

https://www.washingtonpost.com/media/2022/08/28/gannett-layoffs/

https://defector.com/with-newspaper-owners-like-gannett-who-needs-enemies/

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