Gannett Shuttering MomsLikeMe Network, Deleting Everything

Gannett’s MomsLikeMe hyperlocal parenting network will cease operating on Friday and its 100-plus town-specific sites will go dark and the content will be deleted. The move comes as the company prepares for more difficult economic times and last week’s news that Gannett (NYSE: GCI) CEO Craig Dubow had resigned following continued complications related to his back surgery two years ago.

An official memo (via Jim Hopkins’ GannettBlog) attributed a few days ago to Gannett U.S. Community Newspaper head Bob Dickey, his broadcast counterpart Dave Lougee and chief digital officer David Payne said that the company has a set of new priorities around its interactive efforts.

In particular, the trio outlined its new focus around “(1) investing in our core news products and capabilities — building new web, mobile, and tablet products with deeply-enhanced social, video, advertising, and personalization feature sets; (2) local marketing services like DealChicken and GannettLocal to support our advertiser clients; and (3) new product development.”

In other words, operating an extensive blog network aimed at moms tied to its 80 local newspapers and 19 TV stations didn’t fit with the new digital direction. “After careful review and analysis, we have determined that we cannot scale this product and rather than investing in it further, we believe we are better served redirecting our resources towards the digital efforts where we see greatest opportunity and potential return on our investment,” the memo said.

Most of the managers who worked on MomsLikeMe did that in addition to their main jobs at Gannett’s papers and TV outlets, so the layoffs will probably be minimal, though Gannett, which has been experiencing some pullback in ad spending commitments by marketers due to the weak economy, may resort to more job cuts before the year is out. In June, the McLean, Va.-based media company said it was cutting 2 percent of its workforce, or roughly 700 jobs at its Community Newspaper division.

The MomsLikeMe blog network first began in 2006 as a part of The Indianapolis Star website. Since that time, “mom blogs” have proliferated and practically every major media company has its own parenting vertical. So although the mom bloggers on Gannett’s network will lose the past material when Gannett turns out the lights for good on MomsLikeMe, there are a number of outlets these days that might be happy to pick up its pieces.