The publishers of daily newspapers in Fort Myers and Naples are stepping gingerly around questions about their future together.
Gannett, parent of the Fort Myers News-Press, announced in October that it plans to acquire Journal Media Group, parent of the Naples Daily News. Advertisers and marketing executives in both towns wonder what's going to happen when the deal closes later this spring.
Bill Barker, publisher of the Naples Daily News, hinted that Fort Myers and Naples are such distinct media markets that each deserves its own newspaper. “This is not Tampa Bay,” says Barker, the former publisher of the Tampa Tribune, speaking at a recent gathering of the Gulf Coast chapter of the Public Relations Society of America.
In response to a question about whether Gannett would merge the Fort Myers and Naples publications into single newspaper, Barker countered that both are successful as standalone publications. “The last thing any good steward would want to do is mess with that,” Barker says.
Concerns about newsgathering also dominated the questions from public-relations executives. “I don't see any reduction in local content,” says Mike Jung, publisher of the News-Press.
But both Barker and Jung were careful to say they couldn't share details of the deal until it's completed. “We won't speculate as to what we do as brothers,” Barker says.