Editorial-writer-turned-state-legislator Jason Probst penned an early obituary for the Hutchinson News, his employer for 15 years before he was selected to complete the term of a representative who died in office.
In a blog, Probst writes that the Hutch News is no longer a part of the community it serves.
“…That paper and that history is over,” the Hutchinson Democrat writes. “The company that owns it now is not part of the community. It has no long term vision for our town. It is not invested in the people – those who work there or those who reside here.”
Gatehouse Media purchased the Hutchinson News and a handful of other Kansas newspapers from the Harris family at the end of 2016. Probst writes he listened as the new management told Hutch News staff that they wouldn’t notice any changes.
“Time, however, has shown the truth. And it’s past time to have an honest conversation about what is happening at The Hutchinson News and the true intentions of its corporate owners,” he writes.
After several rounds of layoffs and outsourcing the paper’s design to Texas, Probst says the paper’s owners aren’t interested in news; they’re an investment organization.
“It’s not a newspaper any longer; it’s an investment vehicle that routes local money to New York, disguised as a newspaper and local news outlet,” Probst writes.
Gatehouse is the largest newspaper chain in the country. It owns 630 publications in 36 states, including 23 newspaper and six shoppers in Kansas. Its state portfolio includes the Topeka Capital-Journal–the company’s most recent Kansas acquisition–as well as the Hutchinson News, the Salina Journal, the Pittsburg Morning Sun, the Newton Kansan, the Fort Leavenworth Times, the Ottawa Herald, and the Hays Daily News. GateHouse operates more than 630 publications in 36 states.
“A company like Gatehouse/NewMedia is no different than a Walmart or other giant company that moves into a community. They are there to extract wealth. Period. Once that wealth dries up, they’ll sell out and move on,” Probst says.