Nov 2020-Feb 2021
Independent, Local Owners Continue to Emerge
Single dailies, weeklies and small groups continue to change hands
Small deal activity has steadily continued, with more than 15 transactions closing since November. The vast majority of buyers continued to be small groups or independents. Local owners bought papers in San Francisco, Washington state, Florida and Oklahoma.
Carpenter Newsmedia returned to the acquisition scene with the strategic addition of two dailies in Louisiana that fit nicely within their footprint. Paxton Media Group also continued to strategically expand with the addition of a weekly in Indiana adjacent to two recent daily acquisitions.
Boone Newspapers adds in Louisiana
The Shearman family sold the assets of the American Press in Lake Charles and Southwest Daily News in Sulphur to Carpenter Newsmedia (CNL), an affiliate of Boone Newspapers (BNI). The assets included the two print publications, websites and a commercial printing business in Lake Charles. The Shearman family had owned the American Press since 1943.
BNI and CNL own and/or manage 74 related newspapers along with websites, shopping guides and magazines in communities in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Virginia, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas. Their Louisiana newspapers include the Bogalusa Daily News and L’Observateur in LaPlace. They publish the Orange (TX) Leader and the Port Arthur (TX) News, which are printed in Lake Charles.
”We are pleased and humbled to succeed the Shearman family in responsibility for the American Press and Southwest Daily News,” said Todd Carpenter, president and CEO of BNI and owner of CNL. “We will work hard to meet our every obligation to the communities served and to build on the strong foundations put down by the Shearman family, generations of journalists and good newspaper people who have been part of those newspapers over the years.”
San Francisco Examiner Gets Local Owner
In a major expansion of its regional publishing business, Clint Reilly Communications acquired the 155-year-old San Francisco Examiner and its affiliated publications, including SF Weekly.
The Examiner joined the Reilly family portfolio after nine years under the ownership of Black Press LTD, publisher of more than 150 titles across the western United States and Canada.
The sale included the Examiner’s intellectual property, as well as its commercial printing facility.
Clint Reilly Communications, owned by Clint and Janet Reilly, also publishes the Nob Hill Gazette and Gentry Magazine. In addition, the family has significant real estate holdings and a successful political consulting business.
Family Acquires 131-year-old Washington Daily
After 52 years of ownership, Lafromboise Communications sold the Centralia (WA) Chronicle to Chad and Coralee Taylor, owners of The Silver Agency in Chehalis, Washington. The sale also included the Nisqually Valley News in Yelm and The Reflector in Battle Ground.
The Taylors plan to leverage their experience and success in growing The Silver Agency, founded in 1998, to improve the newspapers’ bottom line and bring new options for advertisers and businesses.
Chad Taylor will serve as publisher, Coralee Taylor will be the CEO and their son, Franklin Taylor, will be the vice president. The name of the new company is CT Publishing.
Oklahoma Papers Go Local
Reid Newspapers acquired the Miami (OK) News-Record, the Grove (OK) Grand Lake News, and The Delaware County (OK) Journal from Gannett Co., Inc.
A second-generation, family-owned newspaper company, Reid Newspapers owns seven other newspapers in Oklahoma and operates two large central printing operations in Weatherford and Vinita.
Its newspapers include the Weatherford Daily News, the Perry Daily Journal, the Bethany Tribune, and Country Connections. It also operates the Vinita Daily Journal, the Nowata Star, the Grandlaker and the Afton-Fairland American with business associates John and Janet Link of Vinita.
Phillip Reid serves as president and CEO of Reid Newspapers. His wife, Jeanne Ann, serves as CFO and co-owner.
“We run a family operation. Our goal is to work alongside leaders in the community to help grow and celebrate the towns we serve. Our doors are always open to new ideas and directions for the newspapers,” Reid said.
O'Rourke Media Group Buys Two from Forum
Forum Communications Co. sold RiverTown Multimedia, which publishes the weekly Red Wing (MN) Republican Eagle and weekly Hudson (WI) Star-Observer newspapers, to O’Rourke Media Group.
The sale did not include the RiverTown office and production facility in Red Wing, which permanently closed at the end of January.
The RiverTown group, which has been owned by Fargo-based Forum since 2001, has undergone many changes during the past two years. In 2019, Forum merged the Red Wing Republican Eagle and Pierce County Herald into a single publication, and merged the River Falls Journal and New Richmond News into the Hudson Star-Observer. In 2020, Forum closed two other papers in the group, The Bulletin and Hastings Star Gazette, due in part to economic impacts caused by the pandemic.
Forum continues to own and operate more than 20 publications, including newspapers and websites in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.
Family-owned O’Rourke Media Group launched in 2018 and has since acquired community publications in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont, and Arizona, including the recent purchase of the Cannon Falls (MN) Beacon.
Paxton Adds Indiana Weekly
Paxton Media Group acquired the North Vernon (IN) Plain Dealer & Sun from the King family.
The 157-year-old Plain Dealer & Sun had been published by the King family since 1954.
Paxton Media Group recently acquired daily newspapers in nearby Madison and Jasper, Indiana. The North Vernon weekly joins Madison and Jasper in Paxton’s regional group that is anchored by the Owensboro (KY) Messenger-Inquirer. All the pages for these publications are designed in Owensboro’s design center, which is part of the M-I newsroom, and all advertisements are created in the Owensboro graphics center.
Paxton Media Group has publications in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.
Florida Weeklies Change Hands
Neves Media Publishing acquired four weekly newspapers – The Apalachicola Times, Port St. Joe Star, the Washington County News, and the Holmes County Times-Advertiser – from Gannett Co., Inc.
Neves Media Publishing owner Todd Neves, a Bay County native, is recognized as an innovator in multi-media and technology solutions for both business and home. He operates several other firms in the southeast through Neves Media Solutions Group, including: an advertising and marketing agency, an information technology firm, an audio/video contracting company and a fire and burglar alarm system company.
Pilot Acquires Magazine Owned by McClatchy
The twice-weekly Southern Pines (NC) Pilot, which owns Pinestraw and four other magazines across North Carolina, acquired Walter, Raleigh’s arts and culture magazine, from McClatchy, owner of The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer.
The Pilot’s ownership group includes members of the Daniels family, which owned and operated The N&O for 101 years until it was sold to McClatchy in 1995.
With the acquisition, The Pilot owns the leading arts and culture magazines in North Carolina’s three largest cities — Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro.
Times-Journal Purchases Morgan County Citizen
Marietta, Georgia-based Times-Journal, Inc. acquired the weekly Morgan County Citizen.
During the past 20 years, the Citizen has been named the best weekly in the state of Georgia 10 times and has consistently garnered countless awards through the Georgia Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.
Times-Journal publishes daily and weekly newspapers, magazines and websites in central and north Georgia, including the Marietta Daily Journal, the Rome News-Tribune, and Cherokee Tribune/Ledger.
“It is an honor and a privilege for my sister Lee and I to be the third generation of managers of a family-owned newspaper business,” Otis Brumby III of Times-Journal, Inc. said. “Growing up, our father taught us the value of hard work, faith, family and integrity. We take our new responsibility to the people of Morgan County seriously and look forward to getting to know, working with and serving the people in those communities.”
Tech firm buys Cook County (MN) News-Herald
The Cook County News-Herald, based in Grand Marais, Minnesota, was sold to New Jersey-based CherryRoad Technologies Inc., a national information technology firm.
CherryRoad has long been in the business of helping governments bring in new technology, but the acquisition of a newspaper is the family-owned company’s first.
“For the last 20 years or so, our focus has been on helping state and local governments with digital transformation initiatives,” chief executive Jeremy Gulban told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Over the summer, we got to talking about what else should we be doing with our technology tools… Local newspapers came up as a topic.”
Brian Calle, owner of LA Weekly, revived the storied Village Voice alt in New York City. Calle acquired the publication, which had been shut down in 2018, from Peter D. Barbey.
Schneps Media — publisher of more than 70 daily, weekly and monthly publications across New York City, Long Island, Westchester and Philadelphia — acquired the leading group of local political news websites in New York City.
Founded in 2014 by Stephen Witt, KingsCountyPolitics.com became the go-to source of local political news and information. Over the past several years, Witt expanded into Queens and Manhattan, developing local political websites dedicated to each borough.
SmallTownPapers Inc. of Shelton, Washington, took over ownership of 10 newspapers from now-retired eastern Washington and Idaho publisher LuJane Nisse. The publications cover communities that include Palouse, Garfield, Latah County, Moscow, Genesee and Kendrick. Archives of the papers date back to 1874.
Reporter Newspapers and its parent company, Springs Publishing, which publishes community newspapers in suburban, Atlanta, was sold to Keith Pepper. The company was founded by Steve Levene, a former Wall Street Journal business executive.
The Howell family sold the Bitterroot (MT) Star to Jesse and Sasha Mullen. The Mullens also own and operate the Philipsburg Mail and the Silver State Post in Deer Lodge, where they also own the Browsing Bison Bookstore.
New York Jewish Week was acquired by 70 Faces Media, the nonprofit parent company of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Kveller, Alma and My Jewish Learning.