The Sag Harbor Express and the Press News Group, two of the oldest news organizations on the South Fork, are set to merge into one media group following the end of their busy fourth of July issues. The merger will consist primarily of pooling editorial resources rather than dissolving into one paper, as both The Express and Press News Group have said that preserving the identities of each of the four papers the new entity will publish is their top concern.
"We have such incredible community newspapers, but there is also a lot of redundancy," Gavin Menu, co-publisher of The Sag Harbor Express said on Monday. "Being able to harness additional resources will be crucial to allowing us to keep up and provide the community with new content."
Mr. Menu shares publishing duties at The Express with Kathryn Menu, his wife, and the two will be co-publishers of the merged group, with Ms. Menu remaining editor of The Express to maintain the style that has guided the paper to national recognition since 1859. Joseph Shaw, the current executive editor of the Press News Group, will become executive editor of the new company, the name for which has not yet been determined.
The merged entity will include The Sag Harbor Express and its website, sagharborexpress.com, as well as 27east.com, the main website of the Press News Group's four publications: The Southampton Press Eastern and Western Editions, The East Hampton Press, and 27 East Magazine.
Although the papers will merge as far as resources are concerned, the staff and respective office locations of The Express and Press News Group will remain the same to ensure that "people can keep their jobs, be more invested in their jobs, and can lead the way in terms of keeping community journalism alive," Mr. Menu said.
The ability of the two groups to integrate is not a pressing concern, Mr. Menu said. He worked for The Southampton Press for close to 10 years, and got to know and work with almost three quarters of the current staff there.
"Integrating two companies that are that closely related on a 1 to 10 scale of difficulty is probably closer to a 1," said Joseph Louchheim, publisher of The Press. Mr. Louchheim will give up his position as publisher of The Press under the merger, but will be there to guide Kathryn and Gavin Menu through the transition period.
Talk of a merger came in the wake of a new era of dwindling resources in local journalism, as both Mr. Louchheim and Mr. Menu explored how to sustain their papers in a way that would best serve their communities.
"I've been doing this for a long time," Mr. Louchheim said. "I've always been concerned about the transition of this paper with respect to something that is good for the community. The Express has been very good at experimenting with new models for community journalism. Their problem is they just don't have the same resources to scale these ideas."
Mr. Louchheim said he saw the potential to revolutionize local journalism by pooling the assets of both publications, and contacted the Menus.
"Joe reached out to us because he saw some of the same things happening in terms of resources becoming tighter and the business model needing to change," Mr. Menu said.
He is confident that he and his wife will bring forth the energy and youthful leadership needed to institute many of these adjustments.