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The Chain Gang: One Newspaper versus the Gannett Empire Paperback – December 3, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One of the biggest under-told stories of the past 20 years is the engulfing of independent newspapers by large media chains. The Chain Gang is the account of two battles waged by Richard McCord with his independent newspapers against the Gannett Company. In Santa Fe, New Mexico, a small weekly he started had to fight for survival against Gannett and its nasty tactics. In Green Bay, Wisconsin, he again waged war against Gannett. His experiences make for a fascinating narrative and provide a real-life account of the struggle for an independent voice in the face of a corporate steamroller. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.

From Publishers Weekly

McCord has battled the Gannett newspaper giant twice and lived to tell about it in this fascinating book. Frustrated with big-city life, McCord and his then-wife light out for the territory?Santa Fe, N.M., to be precise?and start their own weekly. But when the Gannett media empire buys the town's daily paper, McCord has cause for worry. Some of the freewheeling business practices he ascribes to Gannett, such as lying to advertisers and setting prices off the newspaper rate card, are ethically dubious, while others border on antitrust. But Gannett's influence on the rest of the newspaper world makes it difficult to get the word out as McCord fights first for the survival of his own weekly, and then for that of a daily owned by a friend in Green Bay, Wisc. McCord tells it all from the viewpoint of a small-town underdog, and as he travels from Salem, Ore., to Little Rock, Ark., and Green Bay, discovering how Gannett subverts the good journalism it claims to champion, readers won't be able to help but cheer him on. Be warned, however: McCord is a quirky character. When he digresses from his battles to talk about his inner feelings, the narrative turns slightly mawkish and underwhelming (the reader feels every mile of a road trip described in Chapter 15). Overall, however, this book is nearly impossible to put down, for the media curious or those who just like a good scrap.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: University of Missouri (December 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826213758
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826213754
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,129,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My only complaint with the book is a bit too much McCord, although his story is part of the whole. I can live without his comments on small-town suspicion...it detracts from his main story, which is a whopper...the subversion of a free press by the forces of greed. Fight on, Dick! (I was sports editor of the News-Chronicle at the time of McCord's articles.)
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By A Customer on August 2, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is an incredible book. First of all, it's a great read. It's written by a journalist and it's compelling--I couldn't put it down. It should be made into a movie. And it's all true.
It recounts how Gannett, the nation's biggest newspaper chain, resorts to illegal, and immoral tactics to force other newspapers out of business. Gannett can be perfectly profitable WITHOUT eliminating the competition, but if it has a monopoly, it can make over 30 percent profits with its newspapers.
This book also tells what Gannett does to the papers it consumes--namely, slashes content, puts articles about dogs on the front pages, increases advertising, raises subscription AND advertiser rates, fires lots of employees, etc.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is outstanding. McCord covers Gannett's manuveurs to kill off the competition in New Mexico and Green Bay, WI. He shows a company that lies, cheats, and uses any means available to force competitors under. The book goes a long way toward explaining why more and more towns are one-newspaper towns and why, even in towns with more than one newspaper, so much of the content is canned (e.g., the chains of "alternative" weeklies). A frightening and important book.
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Format: Paperback
After reading a recent interview of Mr. McCord published in the Santa Fe Reporter, I purchased this book. It is quite a story, based upon good solid research and good solid judgment. Mr. McCord started the Reporter in 1974, and not long after, feared for his paper's existence due to the voracious appetite of the Gannett organization. His research of Gannett's practices in other non-competitive markets allowed him to conduct a pre-emptive strike which enabled his paper to live to fight another day (even currently, as we read this). The second part of this book tells the battle Mr. McCord waged on behalf of a long-time industry friend near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Planning, researching, trusting the right people, and having the strength to do the right thing are at the core of this story.

Mr. McCord is a great storyteller, who knows which details he needs to justify his expose and which he should use to construct a report that even the non-journalist will be outraged by. In this day of "buy local", Mr. McCord's efforts on behalf of independent newspapers is must reading. Then, go out, do a bit of your own research, and buy a paper written by good, honest reporters and ethical publishers who know your region best.

The Chain Gang is a riveting story, which should be required reading for every journalism student. Indeed, it should be required for anyone who reads newspapers or their current electronic incarnations.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You don't have to be in the newspaper business to find this book interesting. Even if all you do is read newspapers, or use them to line the rabbit cage, you will be astonished. This exhaustively researched, extremely well-written account demonstrates in graphic detail the lengths to which a desperate monopolist will go to achieve and preserve its monopoly profits. This is a really important book.
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Format: Paperback
Author Richard McCord brings to life a disturbing nationwide trend in which a huge conglomerate corporation sets out to destroy a locally owned competitor. It's happening throughout America as local businesses of all kinds are increasingly forced out by national and international corporations. McCord's book documents how a small local daily managed to fight off a large newspaper chain bent on its destruction. There are survival lessons for all locally owned businesses in this book.
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