An internal Times-Shamrock Communications email titled, “Have you seen the Scranton Independent Gazette?” was recently forwarded to one of our staffers by an anonymous source.
Addressed to all Scranton Times, Shamrock NEPA, and ADI employees, the memo directed them to notify management each time “this paper” was seen on a newsstand, at a business, or being delivered to neighborhood homes.
The Independent Gazette is questioning why Times-Shamrock would be so interested in a new monthly publication appearing in the area, especially since it should have come as no surprise, given that an image of the Gazette’s cover page had appeared in the leaked email. So why the fascination? After all, according to published reports, Times-Shamrock (a company owned by the Lynett and Haggerty families of Scranton), boasts a media empire consisting of no fewer than 8 dailies, over 20 weeklies, and 12 radio stations.
Surely, this nascent monthly, the Independent Gazette, could not upset the Times-Shamrock stranglehold on how the news is reported in northeastern Pennsylvania.
Or could it?
Since its initial publication in Wilkes-Barre last year, the Independent Gazette has quickly become known for its cutting-edge reporting, often driving the way news is covered by the larger outlets in the area. The Gazette’s robust online website often breaks stories neglected by other news agencies, and has experienced a significant, steady growth since January, doubling page views some months.
The Gazette is a free publication, while the Times-Tribune is not. In fact, there has even been a steady increase in the price of newsstand copies. Currently the charge for the Monday–Saturday Editions is a buck, while the Sunday Edition costs a whopping $2.50.
Advertising in the Gazette runs approximately one-tenth the cost of a comparable Times-Tribune spot. Yet ads in the Independent Gazette tend to be seen more often and recalled better. Why? Simply because it has emerged as the go-to community newspaper in Wilkes-Barre—and is quickly on its way to becoming so in Scranton. It is known for its wide range of engaging articles, so the publication tends to remain on hand longer than other papers and to be read thoroughly, not merely get skimmed over and tossed out with the day’s trash.
Also, when one advertises with us, their ad appears on our website free of charge, and for the duration of the month, which is not the case with the Times-Tribune. No, additional payment is required for an ad to appear in their online version of the paper. Not only that, but their full articles are positioned behind a paywall, necessitating a subscription for access. The Gazette’s aim is to make our coverage of the news and happenings in the community easily accessible to anyone and everyone, especially in the current economy. While compelling people to dig into their pockets for their news and information seems to be the Shamrock model, it’s certainly not that of the Independent Gazette.
Competition is a positive thing. When one news outlet enjoys a monopoly, there is always the potential for certain stories to receive inadequate attention, due to individuals’ possible affiliations to, or relationships with, a paper or its staff members. Examples of journalistic malpractice that can result from diminished competition include disproportionate coverage of candidates, the omission of important information, and the slanting of stories to push an agenda.
Having already gained a reputation for reporting the news fairly, accurately, and with equal coverage for all political parties, the Independent Gazette also investigates the issues that other papers are afraid to delve into. We believe the public has the right to know about everything going on in their city.
No matter how unpopular an article may make us with certain officials or organizations, we will write about it for the good of the people.
The Times-Shamrock prints the following local dailies: the Times-Tribune in Scranton, the Citizens’ Voice in Wilkes-Barre, and the Standard-Speaker in Hazleton. Local weeklies include the Abington Suburban, the Pocono Times, the Wyoming County Press Examiner, the Farmer’s Friend, the Northeast Driller, and the Susquehanna County Independent. The entertainment papers electric city in Scranton and diamond city in Wilkes-Barre are also Times-Shamrock publications.
Should the Times-Shamrock Corporation take note of the Independent Gazette? Let’s hope so. No less than 90 percent of our media today is owned by six corporations, and Scranton has been a one-newspaper town for too long.
This month alone, 30,000 copies are slated to be printed between the Wilkes-Barre and Scranton Editions. They can be found at all Wilkes-Barre and Scranton Turkey Hill locations, in addition to numerous other distribution points. A full listing of sites that carry the paper is published on our website. In Wilkes-Barre, copies are also delivered door to door, and are being distributed in the same manner in Scranton, as we expand our presence throughout the Electric City.
The Wilkes-Barre Edition is published the first week of each month and the Scranton Edition the third week of each month. Those who are already attuned to our work also know to look out for breaking news stories, broadcast via our website, prior to emerging in print.
If management at the Times-Tribune wishes to have a copy of the Gazette delivered to them monthly, they can subscribe at our website and we will gladly mail one to them. A basic subscription is only $4/month. Both our articles and our subscription page can be found on our website.