Family Owners Expand Into Florida
Members of the Osteen family have been involved in newspapering in Sumter, South Carolina, for more than 150 years, which is believed to be the longest continuous family involvement in a newspaper in South Carolina, and one of the longest in the United States. The Item is also the oldest family owned business in Sumter.
N.G. Osteen, the original Osteen patriarch, began his career in the newspaper business at the age of 12 when he joined The Sumter Watchman in 1855 as an apprentice. He would later own that paper, which was merged with another daily to eventually become The Sumter Daily Item in 1930.
Today, the fifth generation of Osteens is involved in directing The Item and Osteen Publishing Co. Hubert Graham Osteen II is editor at large and co-president and secretary, Kyle Brown Osteen is co-president, and John Duvall (Jack) Osteen is publisher of The Item and a vice president. Larry Miller serves as CEO.
The Osteens recently acquired a group of Florida properties – their first foray outside of South Carolina. DV&M spoke with the family about the acquisition.
What made you acquisition-minded in this environment?
As our home market continued to contract over the past three years, we felt one way to maintain cash flow was to increase our revenue streams. Newspapers are what we know and believe in, so it makes sense to pursue good ones.
Osteen Publishing has been around a long time, but this is your company’s first acquisition outside South Carolina. Why did you choose this particular investment?
We believe we can make adjustments to the publications to keep them profitable. They all have good leadership and good local people in place, and that’s where it all starts.
These are great communities that deserve great newspapers, and northeast Florida is one of the most beautiful and desirable regions of the world to live and do business. The business, social and cultural environments are dynamic on many levels because people really love living there.
What will the newspaper business look like in five years? Do you see the traditional revenue streams being replaced with something new?
Like most in the industry, we think smaller papers will continue to be relatively strong. There will still be erosion in the market, but at a smaller pace. For small papers, a lot of the revenue streams will remain the same. Digital will play a role, but a much smaller one than at the large papers.