3rd Quarter 2019
Transaction Levels Steady in 3rd Quarter
Family owners sell several newspapers in the West and Midwest
The sale of the remaining newspapers owned by Bend, Oregon-based Western Communications highlighted deal activity in the third quarter.
After a torrid pace set in the first half of the year, the number of transactions involving daily newspapers returned to more normal levels in the July-September period.
While sellers continued to be dominated by family-owned operations, ownership passed in many cases to other privately held newspaper companies in the same region. These included Oregon-based EO Media Group, Shaw Media in Illinois and Champion Media in North Carolina.
A Bend in the Road
A new company formed by family-owned EO Media Group and local investors were the high bidders at a bankruptcy auction for the 15,000-circulation Bend (OR) Bulletin and a complementary weekly newspaper owned by Western Communications.
EO Media earlier had acquired two other newspapers from Western – the La Grande (OR) Observer and the Baker City (OR) Herald. EO Media Group, which is in the fourth generation of family ownership, is headquartered in Salem, Oregon. It owns a daily newspaper in Pendleton, Oregon; weekly newspapers in Oregon and southwest Washington; and the Capital Press, a regional agricultural publication.
Robert Chandler bought the Bulletin in 1953 and became known for his editorial writing. He was chairman of the company until his death in 1996, and was succeeded by his daughter, Betsy McCool.
Heidi Wright, chief operating officer of EO Media, said, “We believe readers in Central Oregon will support our mission of producing content that is relevant, credible and reflective of the communities we serve.”
Sold in Sonora
In a separate transaction involving a newspaper owned by Western Communications, Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers acquired the Sonora (CA) Union Democrat in the north-central part of the state.
Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers and related companies operate newspapers in several states. Their California newspapers include the Bakersfield Californian, Porterville Recorder, Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Imperial Valley Press, Lodi News-Sentinel and the Antelope Valley Press in Palmdale.
The Union Democrat has been published since 1854. Western Communications bought the newspaper in 1998 from Helen McGee shortly after the death of her husband Harvey.
Veteran newspaper executive Scott Champion acquired the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania from Civitas Media. The Times Leader was the last newspaper owned by private equity-owned Civitas Media, which at one time owned publications in 11 states.
Champion formed a new company that includes former Civitas Media executive Andrew Mok to buy the Wilkes-Barre newspaper. Champion’s other holdings include newspapers in North Carolina and South Carolina acquired from Civitas Media in 2017. Champion was the chief executive officer of Civitas Media at one time during his newspaper career.
In addition to the Times Leader, the deal included a weekly arts and entertainment publication; the Sunday Dispatch, which covers Pittston; the Abington Journal, which covers Clarks Summit; and numerous digital properties.
The Times Leader has been through a number of ownership changes, passing through the hands of some of the nation’s largest newspaper owners. It was bought by Capital Cities in 1978, then sold to Knight Ridder in 1997.
McClatchy Co. came into possession of the newspaper in 2006 through its acquisition of Knight Ridder. It was spun off to a group led by one of its former publishers shortly thereafter before becoming part of what would become Civitas Media in 2012.
Inked in Illinois
The NewsTribune and related publications based in La Salle, Indiana joined the northern Illinois group owned by Shaw Media. The La Salle NewsTribune had been owned by the Miller family for more than 70 years since Peter Miller, Jr. bought and merged two newspapers in the mid-1940s.
The transaction included a weekly farm publication distributed to farm families primarily in Illinois and Indiana. The family acquired the farm publication in the late 1970s and grew it into Illinois and Indiana Agri-News.
Shaw Media’s operations includes daily and weekly newspapers serving 15 counties in northern Illinois and Iowa. Shaw’s other Illinois daily newspapers include the Times of Ottawa, also in La Salle County; the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake; the Herald-News in Joliet; the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb; the Telegraph in Dixon; and the Daily Gazette in Sterling.
Sale in Sandusky
Ogden Newspapers bought two newspapers in northern Ohio from Sandusky Newspapers to expand its holdings in the state. Ogden’s holdings in northern Ohio include the nearby Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin.
The two newspapers – the Sandusky Register and Norwalk Reflector – had been owned by the Rau family since 1869 and 1913 respectively.
Sandusky Newspapers sold its newspaper in Ogden, Utah to Ogden Newspapers last year. Earlier in 2019, the company sold its newspapers in Grand Haven, Michigan and Lebanon, Tennessee to Paxton Media. Sandusky continues to own other newspapers in northeast Tennessee.
Newsday Media Group sold amNewYork, its free commuter newspaper in New York City, to Schneps Media.
Launched in 2003, amNewYork is Manhattan’s highest daily circulation newspaper and has almost one million unique visitors to its website each month.
Schneps owns 33 newspapers, 28 magazines and specialty publications and 20 websites. It also produces numerous podcasts and hosts 50 annual events. Among its publications are Queens Weekly, Bayside Times, The Villager, and the Long Island Press.
Schneps president and publisher Victoria Schneps started the company in the mid-1980s with a weekly paper published from the living room of her Bayside, Queens, home. Her son Joshua Schneps, serves as the company’s CEO and co-publisher.
Paddock Publications, owner of the Daily Herald in Arlington Heights, Illinois, added to its “downstate” group with the acquisition of the non-daily Ramsey (IL) News-Journal from local owners. The News-Journal joins Paddock’s Pana News Group, which operates newspapers in Pana, Nokomis, Assumption and Blue Mound in central Illinois.