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As GNS Evolves, It Leaves a Strong Legacy

Bylines that say “Gannett News Service” will disappear Feb. 23.

The strong journalism that is a GNS tradition will not.

A 16-person bureau will continue to provide Washington-based coverage for newspapers, Web sites and television stations across the company. This investment demonstrates Gannett’s commitment to top-quality journalism.

A team based at the Tyson’s Corner offices will continue to help distribute the best content created across the company each day.

Both teams moved under the direction of ContentOne this week. Separating GNS from the News Department of U.S. Community Publishing was done to reinforce one of the core precepts of ContentOne — that cross-divisional sharing of content more broadly will enhance all of our newspapers, stations and digital products.

This move brings an end to the Gannett News Service name.

GNS began as Gannett National Service. In “A History of Gannett,” published in 1993, J. Donald Brandt wrote about the announcement made in 1942: “The bureau would have a ‘staff of three with a girl to handle mail, telephone and office duties.’ Frank Gannett hoped ‘that, without slanting the news, the service can build prestige with interpretive, analytical stories…. The central idea will be to show readers how the news affects all and each of them.

“GNS copy would be transmitted daily from 9 p.m. to midnight. It would be received by wire in Hartford, Albany, Utica, Rochester, Elmira and Binghamton. Other Gannett papers were to be served by mail.”

The name was changed to Gannett News Service as World War II wound down.

The company’s commitment to building a national news service was shown by the people selected to guide it – company and industry leaders such as John Quinn, John Curley, Charles Overby, Bob Ritter, Caesar Andrews.

The commitment also was demonstrated by the investment in reporting that led to two Pulitzer Prizes.

In 1980, GNS was the first news service to win a Pulitzer Prize for public service for a series by Carlton Sherwood, John Hanchette and William Schmick on a fund-raising scandal involving the Pauline Fathers, and the Vatican’s role in covering it up.

GNS won the Pulitzer Prize in national reporting in 1991. Rochelle Sharpe and Marjie Lundstrom were cited for a story that disclosed that hundreds of child abuse-related deaths go undetected each year as a result of errors by medical examiners.

GNS has evolved constantly. It changed from “a staff of three and a girl” to a network of award-winning multimedia journalists. Over the years it has carried out the mission of covering the people and subjects important to local Gannett operations.

As some GNS employees depart through voluntary severances and others move to ContentOne, I want to thank each of them. They are great journalists, great people.

The next step in Gannett New Service’s evolution is its move to ContentOne. The core mission of providing thoughtful, careful, engaging journalism for readers across the country remains in place.

The name is gone.

The journalism isn’t.

Last Modified: February 2009