McClatchy will help to fill in the gap being left behind by the closure of The Vindicator, Youngstown, Ohio’s daily newspaper. The paper is set to stop publishing on Aug. 31. The Compass Experiment, a joint initiative between McClatchy and Google with the aim of developing “essential and sustainable local digital news models,” says it will launch a digital news outlet in Youngstown this fall. The company will have a website as its main product and will experiment with publishing frequency and alternative projects. McClatchy will have full editorial control of the outlet, which it will own. In addition, ProPublica announced that it is opening up a spot in its Local Reporting Network for a local news organization to cover accountability issues in Youngstown. These moves are part of what appears to be a trend of tech companies, donors, regulators and advocacy groups that are working to address the growing number of “news deserts” in the U.S. According to a University of North Carolina study, between 1,300 and 1,400 communities that had newspapers of their own in 2004 now have no dedicated news coverage.
Gannett and GateHouse Media, the two largest newspaper chains in the U.S. by circulation, are moving ahead with their plans to merge, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. The report says that the companies are working to negotiate a cash-and-stock deal in which Fortress Investment Group, GateHouse’s parent company, would likely purchase Gannett, with GateHouse chief executive Mike Reed assuming control of the combined entity. GateHouse, which is known for slashing costs at the papers it acquires, currently owns nearly 700 papers, 156 of them dailies. In addition to USA Today, Gannett owns more than 100 daily papers and 1,000 weekly papers. Gannett recently spurned a takeover attempt by hedge fund-owned MNG Enterprises and is also said to have considered a deal with Tribune Publishing Co.
Instagram is testing out a program that would keep users from seeing how many likes an individual post racks up. The New York Times says the experiment is currently underway in Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Japan and New Zealand. While users will still be able to see who else has liked a post, the tally of the total number of likes will not be available. The only exception: Users can still see like counts and video view counts for their own posts. The policy change is meant to create a less pressurized and competitive platform. “We want people to worry a little bit less about how many likes they’re getting on Instagram and spend a bit more time connecting with the people they care about,” head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said at an annual event for Facebook developers held in April.