Gannett headquarters in McLean, VA. (Photo: Tim Loehrke, USAT)

An independent shareholder advisory service on Thursday backed one of a hedge fund-owned newspaper company’s three nominees to the Gannett board of directors, according to the two media companies that are battling over whether they should become one.

MNG Enterprises, also known as Digital First Media, won Institutional Shareholder Services’ endorsement for the nomination of former MNG CEO Steven Rossi to the Gannett board.

MNG had originally nominated six people to Gannett’s board, which would have given the Alden Global Capital-owned company control of Gannett. MNG withdrew three of its six initial nominees in April but maintained its offer to buy Gannett for $12 per share, which Gannett has rejected as not credible.

With one member on the