If Scripps loses $15M, what is GCI’s hit in Detroit?

Maybe this is why I feel like something big is going on in ominously-quiet Detroit:

To start, surely you saw that E.W. Scripps expects to lose $15 million on the Rocky Mountain News this year, prompting the publisher to put the paper on the auction block today. If that’s the toll in Denver, how much is the Detroit Media Partnership losing on the Detroit Free Press and the other daily in that joint operating agency, The Detroit News? Remember, the Freep was already bleeding a year ago, well before the credit crisis engulfed the U.S. auto industry — right there in the Freep‘s back yard. Detroit’s economy has got to be in worse shape than Denver’s.

Gannett has controlled the Detroit JOA since buying the Freep in 2005 from Knight Ridder, then selling the News to MediaNews Group. In Denver, MediaNews owns the Post, which is in a JOA with the Rocky. Blogger Alan Mutter wrote today that MediaNews is the most likely buyer for the Rocky, which would probably then be shut down — giving MediaNews sole control of the Denver market. Is anything like that afoot in Detroit?

Waiting for Detroit’s plan
With Corporate now on a rampage to cut costs anywhere, the Freep and the JOA would be expected to report job reductions in the current layoff, even after buying out 116 employees in July. But we’ve heard nothing yet from Detroit Media Partnership CEO David Hunke, who also is Freep publisher. Ditto for Hunke’s boss, USA Today Publisher Craig Moon.

Then a reader pointed me to yesterday’s alternative Metro Times, where columnist Jack Lessenberry notes “persistent rumors have been circulating that the Detroit Free Press was on the verge of publishing mainly on the Internet.” And then there was this curious comment, by Anonymous@7:53 p.m. . . .

Earlier: Documents reveal double-digit profit margins at scores of papers now on verge of massive layoffs.

Please post your replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.

[Image: yesterday’s front page, Newseum]

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