Year Ends on a Muted Note
Following an otherwise active year in daily newspaper transactions, 2017 ended with a fairly quiet fourth quarter.
Some of the most active acquirers in recent years, including Boone Newspapers, New Media Investment Group and Adams Publishing, made strategic purchases in the final three months of the year.
New Media Investment Group acquired the 171-year-old Newport (RI) Daily News, serving a market that is often called the sailing capital of the world. The newspaper had been owned by the Sherman family since 1918.
The acquisition of the Newport daily, two weekly newspapers and several magazines will complement New Media’s presence in the region. New Media also owns the Providence (RI) Journal and a number of newspapers in southeastern Massachusetts.
Albert K. “Buck” Sherman, who retired as publisher of the Newport Daily News following the sale, said, “New Media and its affiliates have resources that will help our papers and staff transition into the future.”
Boone Newspapers added to its holdings in central North Carolina with the acquisition of the Stanly News & Press in Albemarle. The newspaper had been owned by Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.
The Stanly News & Press becomes the fourth daily newspaper in North Carolina to be owned by Boone or its affiliates, the closest being the Salisbury Post. In the Southeast, Boone also has newspapers in Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia and Louisiana. It has properties in other parts of the country as well.
The acquiring company was Albemarle Newsmedia LLC, a North Carolina entity owned by Boone Newspapers and Carpenter Newsmedia, LLC. Todd Carpenter is Boone’s president and chief executive officer.
Toward the Mountains
Scott Champion spun off a North Carolina publishing group centered on the daily Mount Airy News to Adams Publishing Group. Earlier in 2017, Champion had acquired the Mount Airy operation and a separate cluster based in Lumberton, North Carolina from Civitas Media.
The Mount Airy group, which also includes a number of non-daily titles, complements Adams’ holdings in the mountains of northwest North Carolina and eastern Tennessee. Champion continues to own the Lumberton group.
La La Land
Voice Media Group sold the alternative LA Weekly to a newly formed company, Semanal Media. It is the seventh newspaper to be sold by Voice Media as part of its efforts to focus on its growing digital advertising operation, V Digital Services.
Founded in 1978 by an investment group that included actor Michael Douglas, LA Weekly is widely considered to be the nation’s mostly widely read alt-weekly, with more than three million active users visiting laweekly.com each month.
Nationally, the Weekly has won more awards from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia than any other publication. And in 2007 it became the first newspaper to be awarded the Pulitzer Prize for restaurant criticism.
Semanal Media is backed by several investors, including Brian Calle, formerly of the Southern California News Group; David Welch, an L.A.-based attorney; Kevin Xu, a philanthropist and investor; Steve Mehr, an attorney and investor; Paul Makarechian, a boutique hotel developer; Mike Mugel, a real estate redeveloper; and Andy Bequer, a Southern California-based investor.
Voice Media continues to own four alternatives – Phoenix New Times, Denver Westword, Miami New Times and the Dallas Observer – along with an online publication in Houston.
Paddock Gets More IL
After getting a foothold in southern Illinois in 2016, Paddock Publications, owner of the Daily Herald in Chicago’s Arlington Heights area, added a group of weeklies in central Illinois. The latest acquisition, Pana News, includes the Pana News-Palladium, the Golden Prairie News in Assumption and the Free Press-Progress in Nokomis.
In 2016, Paddock acquired four weeklies south of Springfield from Gold Nugget Publications, which had been owned by the Jones family for nearly 100 years. Paddock’s earlier acquisition in the region, from New Media Investment Group, included 12 daily and weekly publications serving seven counties in southern Illinois.
The Daily Herald is one of the largest family-owned newspapers in the country and has been published in the Chicago suburbs since 1872.
The owners of the Daily Record in Dunn, North Carolina, acquired the Courier-Times in nearby Roxboro from local owners.
The Bay Area Reporter was acquired by its former publisher, Michael Yamashita. The Bay Area Reporter marked its 47th year in 2017 and is a founding member of the National LGBT Media Association.