You can't have one centralized sales office. The sales guy in Seattle is not going to know where and how to reach the local sandwich shop in say Asbury Park. That is why Yahoo was so eager to partner with newspapers. You think a central news desk will be able to gather local news with speed and precision? Highly unlikely. Maureen Dowd made a big deal about Pasadena Now outsourcing its newsroom to India but failed to ask just how many people were reading the product. Or for that matter, placing ads in it.
The press needs to be close to the market where the paper is distributed. You need local distributors to deliver the papers locally. Consolidation has its limits when the operator can't centralize sales, editorial, production and distribution...
Newspapers are in crisis mode and I don't see them working on a plan to give customers what they want. Consolidation is a reaction to funds drying up.
UPDATE: negative results from consolidating IT departments in California:
McClatchy consolidated the California newspapers IT departments. The grand plan was cost savings through identical service structures.The end result is an inefficient, unresponsive, and reviled department of “outsourcers” inside the same buildings as the disenfranchised..