Shares of Gannett Co. Inc. soared 21% in morning trading Friday, after The Wall Street Journal reported that the publisher of the USA Today newspaper was nearing a deal to be acquired by GateHouse Media. The WSJ report, out late Thursday, said the companies were discussing a cash-and-stock deal, which would join the U.S.'s two largest newspaper groups by circulation. On May 30, the WSJ had reported that Gannett and GateHouse were in merger talks. And in January, the WSJ reported Gannett was approached by hedge-fund backed MNG Enterprises Inc., better known as Digital First Media. Gannett's stock has lost 5.7% over the past 12 months, while the S&P 500 has advanced 7.1%.