You are currently viewing Print Media Monopoly in Oswego County

Print Media Monopoly in Oswego County

All Oswego County-based newspapers are now owned by one publishing company

By Stefan Yablonski

Historically, newspapers have been a critical part of America’s news landscape. Over the past several years, however, they have been in a sharp decline — readership and financially.

More and more people are getting their news digitally.

The industry’s financial fortunes and subscriber base have been in decline since the mid-2000s, but their website audience traffic has again begun to grow.

Years ago, Oswego County had five major players — The Oswego County Weeklies, owned by the Backus family; The Palladium-Times, owned by Thomson Corporation (and others); The Valley News, owned by the late Vince Caravan; The Fulton Patriot, owned by Leroy Hodge; and the Post-Standard, which had a daily section dedicated to news from Oswego County.

Earlier this spring, The Sample News Group, parent company of Oswego County Media Group, purchased four publications from Johnson Newspaper Corporation, based in Watertown. The deal includes The Batavia Daily News and its sister publication the Livingston County News, the Oswego County News and the Oswego Shopper.

The company which publishes The Palladium-Times (circulation estimate: 5,500), The Valley News, The Oswego County Advertiser and online at now has a monopoly in Oswego County.

‘Part of democracy’

Arvind Diddi, professor, department of communication studies, journalism unit coordinator at SUNY Oswego.

“Newspapers — in their paper format and now in their digital avatar — are an integral part of democracy as we know,” said Arvind Diddi, professor, department of communication studies, journalism unit coordinator at SUNY Oswego.

A multitude of voices and perspectives are the essence of this democracy, which risks getting subdued in the process of media conglomeration, he said.

According to Diddi, the media conglomeration is more than a century-old phenomenon, which in its early days was aggressively pursued by E.W. Scripps.

Media conglomeration at different levels is mostly driven by economic reasons.

“Since early 2000, the U.S. has lost more than 2,000 newspapers, witnessed more than 50,000 job cuts in local newsrooms and seen about $40 billion in lost revenue,” he said.

Thus, in this context, what is now being witnessed in Oswego County is a sign of the times.

“Besides, the coronavirus pandemic has hastened the economic downturn of local newspapers,” he added.

Due to such a depleting ecosystem of local news, a phenomenon of news deserts and ghost newspapers is growing fast in communities all across the U.S., which in turn, is undermining our democracy due to increasing misinformation, disinformation and polarization, he said.

A monopoly is not sustainable in the long-run both economically and democratically, according to Diddi.

“Monopoly and democracy are inversely related, i.e., when one goes up the other comes down. On the surface, in the short-run, a monopoly might appear lucrative and invincible; however, the principles of free market and marketplace of ideas don’t operate that way,” he pointed out. “Past and present times are rife with such examples. For instance, Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World ruled the roost at one time — but vanished by the early 1930s.”


With increasing cost of printing and distributing newspapers — growth in digital dissemination and venues — printed newspapers are rapidly changing to innovative strategies. Some such strategies are already noticed in several local newspapers, limiting themselves to printing only on certain days of the week; and adding additional value to the printed editions.

Digital circulation is difficult to gauge. Using only The Alliance for Audited Media (AAM) data, digital circulation in 2020 was projected to have risen sharply, with weekday up 27% and Sunday up 26%, according to the Pew Research Center.

“The future of local newspapers, beside their owners, depends a great deal on the local communities’ wants and needs,” Diddi said. “If there continues to be a sustainable demand for print, then the publishers will be encouraged to fulfill that demand. In short, print will not completely fade away in the next few years, especially in vibrant communities. But they will certainly adapt to innovative ways — some we’re already experiencing, while a few are yet to unfold. What is enabled now is the future.”