Gannett is the largest newspaper publisher in the United States. Following its 2019 merged with GateHouse, it owned an assemblage of 260 daily newspapers. Despite its size, Gannett’s stock price fell 40% in the first 6 months following the merger. The deal, financed with a $1.8 billion loan from a private equity company, led one Wall Street analytics firm to predict there was a one-in-three chance the consolidated company would soon go bankrupt.

Gannett’s troubles have not yet been as dramatic as other large newspaper chains, which have been sold and/or broken up, often by hedge funds and asset management firms operating through bankruptcy proceedings. But Gannett’s place in the descending fortunes of newspaper chains, while unique, is also a commonplace story of how debt, ...

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