Company Overview

Dirks, Van Essen & April is the leading merger and acquisition firm in the U.S. newspaper industry. Since its inception in 1980, the firm has focused primarily on assisting companies in the sale, acquisition and valuation of daily and weekly newspapers for a variety of purposes. It has thus established itself as the industry's top authority on transactions and valuations. 

The firm has successfully closed hundreds of newspaper transactions and has handled many more deals than all other firms combined. Since the mid-1990's, Dirks, Van Essen & April has been involved in more than half of all daily newspaper transactions.

Over the years, Dirks, Van Essen & April has provided services to most of the nation's largest newspaper companies, both public and private, as well as to numerous independent owners and family-owned groups. Having seen our work as prospective buyers, 13 of the 15 largest newspaper companies in the U.S. have engaged Dirks, Van Essen & April to assist them in divesting their own daily or non-daily newspapers. Moreover, some of the nation's most prominent independent owners, including the Daniels family in Raleigh, North Carolina, Scott Low in Quincy, Massachusetts, Joe D. Smith in Alexandria, Louisiana, the Rollins family of Durham, North Carolina, and the Rogers family of Lawrence, Massachusetts have selected our firm when they decided it was time to explore a sale.

Lee E. Dirks founded the firm in 1980 after a successful career as a journalist and the nation’s first newspaper-stock analyst. Owen Van Essen joined the firm in 1986 and became president in 1998. Phil Murray came aboard in 1996 after more that 10 years as an award-winning journalist and retired from the firm in 2020. Sara April joined the team in 2006 after working in magazine publishing and earning a journalism degree.

Over time, Dirks, Van Essen & April has assembled a well-balanced team of professionals with complementary skills in the analysis, negotiation, and execution of transactions. The three principals in the firm all have prior experience working at newspapers, providing important credibility with prospective buyers.