Macomb losing its Voice: Newspaper exodus continues as Gannett bails on rural areas

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TSPR The McDonough County Voice is in the process of moving out of its office on Macomb’s courthouse square. This photo is from Feb. 9, 2023. - Rich Egger

The McDonough County Voice will soon vacate its office on the west side of Macomb’s courthouse square.

A large dumpster was parked outside the newspaper office last month. Garbage cans and boxed up materials can be seen inside the building.

That comes after a round of layoffs last year that gutted remaining news staff at the Voice and other papers in the region.

TSPR emailed the media company Gannett, which owns the Voice and is the largest newspaper chain in the nation.

We asked when its lease for the Macomb office expires, whether it planned to renew the lease, where the office will be located if the lease is not renewed, if there are plans to add local reporting staff, and whether Gannett plans to continue operating the newspaper.

The corporation offered a three-sentence response:

“Gannett has implemented a flexible workplace model for our local newsrooms. Our lease for the McDonough County Voice is set to expire at the end of March, at which time staff will transition to working remote, as many staff currently do. We remain committed to serving our readers and advertisers.”

However, there’s been almost no local coverage for at least six months – no coverage of city council or school board meetings, nothing about other events in the county, and nothing about recent crime.

A review of front pages since the beginning of the year found no locally produced content from Macomb or McDonough County.

The situation with Gannett is not unique to Macomb.

The Galesburg Register Mail currently has no full-time local news staff.

Neither does the Canton Daily Ledger.

The Monmouth Review Atlas has not had local news staff in several years.

Iowa Public Radio reported that Gannett is shrinking much of its physical footprint in Iowa. IPR News confirmed the corporation won’t renew its office leases for the Ames Tribune and the Iowa City Press-Citizen.

Those leases expire in April.

Tri States Public Radio produced this story.  TSPR relies on financial support from its readers and listeners in order to provide coverage of the issues that matter to west central Illinois, southeast Iowa, and northeast Missouri.

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