New Media Investment Group and Gannett finalized their merger, putting top executives in position to move ahead with plans they believe will transform the new company’s local and national news brands, including USA TODAY, into a reinvented digital media powerhouse.

The merger creates the largest U.S. media company by print circulation and one that will vie for the nation’s biggest online news and information audience.

The new company’s CEOs – Mike Reed, who will lead the overall public entity under the name Gannett Co., and Paul Bascobert, who will lead an operating company called Gannett Media Corp. – told USA TODAY in a joint interview that they have a compelling opportunity to reinvent the business and expand digital revenue. Both said the company will continue to focus on its journalistic mission.

“Our mission is to connect, protect and celebrate our local communities,” Bascobert said. “Great journalism really is the core of that mission. The question really becomes, what’s the sustainable and exciting business model that powers that mission?”

The company faces significant challenges – namely how to counteract the news industry’s severe print revenue decline with new sources of digital dollars, reported USA TODAY.

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