Professor Hopes Journal Maintains High Newspaper Standards, Following Merger with Scripps

Aug 1, 2014

Journal Communications announced intentions this week, to merge with The E.W. Scripps Company of Cincinnati, effective in 2015.

Scripps will take over both companies’ broadcast outlets, while the Journal will head all newspaper operations the two firms own, including the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Professor John Pauly, chair of Marquette University’s Department of Journalism and Media Studies, says he hopes the Journal can maintain high standards at the newspapers it will oversee.

"One of the biggest changes will be how the Journal Sentinel thinks of itself, because it traditionally prided itself on being a local news organization on different platforms - and that has been a strong part of its identity. It's a different matter to be a paper within a larger chain because then there are different shareholder expectations and corporate expectations that come, even when you're the lead paper," Pauly said.

Pauly thinks it's a positive sign that the newspaper chain will be based in Milwaukee, perhaps indicating that the company will drive the journalistic standards and replicate its product here.

From what he sees, the Journal Sentinel seems to be the best newspaper of the new grouping, with the others being in small markets and taking what he calls, a "comfy" approach to their print product - providing mainly "advertising services with a minimum of journalism," according to Pauly.

There has been a lot of media mixing and matching in recent times. Pauly says the publicly-traded corporations are looking to find the greatest value for their shareholders in the changing media landscape. Demand has been high for broadcast outlets, while newspapers have struggled to monetize content in the digital age.

Pauly says there have been rumblings that Scripps has wanted to solidify a bigger broadcast network, heading into heated campaign seasons, because of the vast amounts of money interests have been pouring into political ads.