May – October 2022Back to News
Regional Publishers Expand Clusters: Activity remains brisk
More than 100 titles have changed hands since we last updated on deal activity in April 2022. Small and medium-sized dailies and weeklies are still the subject of nearly all transactions as publishers of the larger dailies remain on the sidelines of merger and acquisition activity.
Regional publishers continue to expand strategically as opportunities arise, such as Paxton Media Group in the Southeast and Louie Mullen in the Upper Midwest.
CherryRoad also continues to grow, adding Massachusetts and Michigan – and soon Utah – to its growing list of states with operations.
Shifting ownership in Arizona
Lake Havasu City-based River City Newspapers (RCN) acquired the daily Mohave Valley Daily News from Brehm Communications Inc. (BCI). The deal also included three weeklies – the Wickenburg Sun, Laughlin Times, and Needles Desert Star – as well as the direct mailed product Clippin’ the River, the Laughlin Entertainer, and the Booster Advertiser.
In a separate transaction, RCN also acquired the Kingman Miner and the Central Printing Facility in Golden Valley from Prescott-based Western News&Info, Inc.
River City Newspapers is a partnership formed in 1995 between Western News&Info, Inc. and Sierra Vista-based Wick Communications. RCN also publishes Today’s News-Herald, a daily newspaper serving Lake Havasu City; the Parker Pioneer, a weekly publication in La Paz County; and Havasu: Arizona’s Coastal Life, a quarterly lifestyle magazine.
“The addition of two operations stewarded by family companies into RCN speaks to the commitment our companies have in professional local journalism,” said Francis Wick, Wick Communications’ president and CEO.
Brehm Communications also announced it is selling its California newspapers to Gold Mountain California News Media Inc. and its Utah cluster to CherryRoad Media. Those transactions are expected to close in the near term.
Paxton adds in four states
Paxton Media Group (PMG) completed two deals that included newspapers in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Indiana.
In the larger transaction, PMG acquired The Cleveland (TN) Daily Banner, The Cookeville (TN) Herald-Citizen, The Cartersville (GA) Daily Tribune News, the Chatsworth (GA) Times, and The Jasper (AL) Daily Mountain Eagle.
The newspapers all publish five days per week online and three days per week in print, except for the Chatsworth paper which publishes weekly. Other publications in the group include Walker Magazine, 385 Magazine, Bradley Essential, and Discover Bartow.
The operations had been owned by Cleveland Newspapers, Inc. and Cookeville Newspapers, Inc. for more than 65 and 47 years respectively. Through those years, Cleveland Newspapers. owned and operated daily newspapers in ten states.
In July, Paxton also acquired The Corydon Democrat and Clarion News, two well-established newspapers in southern Indiana. The Corydon Democrat was founded in 1856 and had been owned by O’Bannon Publishing Co. Inc. since 1907. The Clarion News has been owned by the company since 1992.
Paxton Media Group has been one of the industry’s most steady acquirers in recent years. The family-owned media company is headquartered in Paducah, Kentucky, and is managed by fourth- and fifth-generation Paxton family members. The company owns more than 100 newspapers across the Midwest and Southeast.
Grass Valley group changes hands again
Gold Hill California Media Inc. acquired the daily Grass Valley (CA) Union and related titles from Ogden Newspapers. Ogden had acquired the group as part of its acquisition of Swift Communications at the end of 2021.
The sale included the 158-year-old Union, Foothill Weekly, the twice-monthly Wildwood Independent, weekly Prospector, annual Best of Nevada County Magazine, and the annual Nevada County Visitors Guide.
The new owners have newspaper assets throughout the United States and Canada, including several in California. These titles include the Marysville (CA) Appeal-Democrat and the Lodi (CA) News-Sentinel, as well as a group in the southern part of the state.
It has also been announced that a company affiliated with Gold Hill is acquiring the California newspapers owned by Brehm Communications, which is expected to close this fall. That group is anchored by the Auburn (CA) Journal, which is just 25 miles from Grass Valley.
Texas and North Carolina titles sold to Street Media
McElvy Partners LLC sold its media and marketing company with operations in Houston, Dallas, and Charlotte to Street Media. The company’s divisions included community newspapers, shoppers, digital services, commercial printing, and events.
The acquired operations included The Greensheet, a free shopper distributed across Houston and Dallas; two respected community newspapers outside of Houston, The Leader and the Fort Bend Star; and The Weekly, a group of community weeklies serving upscale neighborhoods south of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Texas group also publishes the monthly Fort Bend Business Journal magazine.
The deal also included Core Digital Brands, a digital service division; Texas Printers, a commercial printing division; and McElvy Partner Events.
Street Media’s other operations include LA Weekly, Irvine Weekly, and the Bay Area Marina Times in California; the Village Voice in New York City; and The Laker/Lutz News in Florida.
WV News keeps growing
WV News acquired the Pomeroy (OH) Daily Sentinel, Gallipolis (OH) Daily Tribune, and the Point Pleasant (WV) Register from AIM Media Midwest.
The company also purchased the Mineral Daily News Tribune, Jackson Star, and Jackson Herald in West Virginia from Gannett earlier this year.
With its most recent purchases, WV News now owns more than a dozen newspapers in West Virginia, Maryland, and Ohio. It is headquartered in Clarksburg, West Virginia where its production facility is located. The company also operates a statewide website, wvnews.com.
Mullen closes four more deals
J. Louis Mullen acquired The Lennox Independent and Tea Weekly in southeastern South Dakota from Independent Publishing, LLC. The group also publishes community guides for Tea, Lennox, and nearby Worthing, and provides printing and design services for local businesses.
The newspapers had been operated by members of the Schmidt family since 1997.
This year the Tea paper was named “Best of the Dakotas” during the SDNA/NDNA convention in its circulation category.
Mullen also acquired The Gladwin County (MI) Record & Beaverton Clarion from Adams Publishing Group, three eastern Iowa weeklies from the Tubbs family, and a weekly in New Jersey.
Established in 1877, The Gladwin County Record is the oldest continuously operated business in Gladwin County. APG acquired the paper as part of a larger transaction in 2014, but it did not geographically align with any of the company’s 15 strategic multimedia operations.
The eastern Iowa weekly titles acquired from the Bill and Linda Tubbs included The North Scott Press, The Wilton-Durant Advocate News, and The West Liberty Index.
Mullen’s most recent acquisition, just announced this month, was his first on the Eastern Seaboard. He acquired the weekly Hammonton Gazette from publisher Gabriel Donio and Editor-in-Chief Gina Rullo.
Louie Mullen, part of a second-generation newspaper family, now owns more than 30 newspapers in eight states. He has acquired more than a dozen titles during the last two years. Mullen also sits on the board of the National Newspaper Association.
KPC sold to Ogden
Ogden Newspapers, through its partnership with Journal Gazette Co. in the Fort Wayne Newspapers company, acquired KPC Media in Indiana.
The deal included The News Sun in Kendallville, The Auburn Star, The Angola Herald Republican, The Post and Mail in Columbia City, The Garrett Clipper, Albion New Era, Churubusco News, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly, Indiana/Fort Wayne Community Newspapers, and KPC Phone Books and Directories.
Fort Wayne Newspapers is a partnership between The News Publishing Co., owned by The Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling, West Virginia, and the Journal Gazette Co. Fort Wayne Newspapers operates Fortwayne.com, publishes Fort Wayne Magazine and is the business agent for The Journal Gazette newspaper. The Journal Gazette newsroom operates independently of Fort Wayne Newspapers.
CherryRoad lands in Michigan and Mass. CherryRoad Media expanded into Michigan and Massachusetts with the acquisition of three Michigan weeklies from Sunrise Printing & Publishing, Inc. and three weeklies in Massachusetts from Gannett Co., Inc.
The Michigan titles include the Arenac County Independent in Standish, the Ogemaw County Herald in West Branch, and the Oscoda County Herald in Mio. The Perlberg family had owned the newspapers for decades.
The Massachusetts titles include The Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, The Grafton News, The Landmark of Holden and the Leominster Champion. The Landmark had been scheduled to shut down just a week after the sale was announced.
CherryRoad now publishes newspapers in 12 states, which will soon increase to 13 – it has been announced that CherryRoad is acquiring the Utah newspapers owned by Brehm Communications, which is expected to close this fall.
Paxton on the sell side
Paxton Media Group sold the 142-year-old weekly Sumter Times, the county seat weekly in Sumter, Florida, to D-R Media. The weekly fit perfectly with D-R Media’s other weekly paper in the market, the Sumter Sun Times.
Paxton had acquired the Sumter Times as part of its acquisition of the Landmark Communications newspapers in Florida in 2021.
Daily sold after 140 years
The Gaines family sold the Bowling Green (KY) Daily News to Carpenter Newsmedia LLC, an affiliate of Boone Newspapers Inc.
The transaction included the Daily News, the Country Peddler weekly shopper, Bowling Green Home and Lifestyles, South Central Kentucky Homes, and the Auction Guide magazine.
The Gaines family had owned the operation for 140 years.
Boone Newspapers owns or manages more than 90 newspapers and other publications in 12 states, including several in Kentucky.
Weeklys increases to 15 titles
Dan Pulcrano’s Weeklys newspaper group acquired the 157-year-old Healdsburg Tribune in Sonoma County from the Sonoma County Local News Initiative in May, which had announced it would cease publishing the weekly at the end of April.
Pulcrano founded his first newspaper, the Los Gatos Weekly, in 1982 and opened Metro Silicon Valley three years later. His company has been starting and acquiring newspapers in Northern California ever since.
The Tribune is the 15th newspaper under his ownership, and his second in Sonoma County. Pulcrano bought the bi-weekly Sonoma County Independent in 1994, took it weekly and rebranded it as the North Bay Bohemian in 2000. Weeklys also publishes the Pacific Sun in neighboring Marin County.
Public radio provider acquiring Texas newspaper
In September, KERA, the public radio provider for North Texas, announced it plans to acquire the Denton (TX) Record-Chronicle.
The Record Chronicle has been owned by the Patterson family since the 1940s.
The deal is expected to be complete in 2023. The transaction is being facilitated by The National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit that works to preserve local ownership of news organizations.
We’ll be watching to see if public media organizations acquiring local newspapers becomes a larger trend – it was just in January 2022 that Chicago Public Media purchased the Chicago Sun-Times, partnering the paper with its public radio station, WBEZ.
Virginia weekly changes hands
HD Media purchased the Virginia Mountaineer, a weekly newspaper in Grundy, Virginia.
The Mountaineer has been the newspaper of record in Buchanan County, Virginia, for a century, and had been owned by the Bartley family.
The move expands HD Media’s footprint from its core in the southern half of West Virginia. HD Media publishes the Charleston Gazette-Mail and Herald-Dispatch, the dailies in West Virginia’s two largest towns, as well as the weekly Coal Valley News, Lincoln Journal, Lincoln News-Sentinel, Logan Banner, Putnam Herald, Tri-State Weekly, Wayne County News and Williamson Daily News.
Paddock expands chamber business
Paddock Publications’ subsidiary Town Square Publications acquired assets of Target Marketing, a Kentucky-based chamber of commerce map publishing company.
The acquisition broadens Town Square’s nationwide footprint and makes it the largest specialty marketing company serving chambers of commerce in the U.S. with guidebooks, community resource guides and general marketing needs.
One month, two new family owners
At the end of April, it was announced that for the second time in less than a month, Iowa’s Le Mars Daily Sentinel, the Shopper’s Guide, and the Remsen Bell had a new owner.
Iowa Information Media Group, owned by the Wagner family, purchased the papers from Hallmark Media II, which had acquired the products from Rust Communications earlier that month. The proximity of Le Mars/Remsen to Iowa Information’s existing properties offered obvious synergies.
Iowa Information also expanded in the region in 2021 with its purchase of The Osceola County Gazette-Tribune and 4 County Shopper.
In an article published in the Daily Sentinel, Jeff Wagner stressed the importance of finding synergies and savings with the rapid pace of change in the publishing industry and noted growing through acquisition is the best way the company can do that while continuing to serve its audience.
“We believe in the future of journalism and feel strongly about the role a newspaper plays in a thriving community. Le Mars is that kind of town and we are committed to a news product that reflects that vibrancy,” he added.
Iowa Information’s other titles include The N’West Iowa REVIEW, The Sheldon Mail-Sun, Sioux Center News, The Osceola County Gazette-Tribune, Hawarden Independent/Ireton Examiner, The Golden Shopper, Sioux Center Shopper, Area-Wide Advertiser, OKOBOJI Magazine, DISCOVER! and the website nwestiowa.com.
Florida Weekly sold
The Hoffmann Family of Companies, a Naples-based organization of more than 85 companies in the United States and internationally, acquired Florida Media Group, LLC, publishers of nine newspapers with more than 220,000 weekly readers.
The newspapers included Bonita Springs Florida Weekly, Charlotte Florida Weekly, Fort Myers Florida Weekly, Key West Florida Weekly, Naples Florida Weekly and Palm Beach Florida Weekly, along with the Ave Maria Sun, Babcock Ranch Telegraph, and the Wellen Park Journal.
Florida Weekly’s staff members have won more than 190 awards from the Florida Press Association, the Society of Professional Journalists and the Florida Newspaper Advertising and Marketing Executives Association.
Hoffmann said its new media group plans to expand throughout the United States in smaller communities where hometown newspapers have been lost, and to acquire struggling newspapers that may be unable to maintain their legacy format.
Hurd buys more in Indiana
Heartland Media Group acquired two Indiana newspapers that had been owned by the Heuring family since 1898.
With the addition of The Press-Dispatch of Petersburg and the South Gibson Star-Times of Fort Branch, Heartland Media Group, owned by Don Hurd, now operates 22 newspapers in Indiana reaching approximately 250,000 readers every week.
Gannett sells in Iowa and Indiana
The owners of the Southeast Iowa Union acquired four weekly newspapers from Gannett Co., Inc. in August.
The titles, the oldest of which dates to 1856, include the Belle Plaine Star Press Union, Marengo Pioneer Republican, Williamsburg Journal Tribune, and the Poweshiek County Chronicle Republican. The papers serve portions of Iowa, Benton, Poweshiek, and Keokuk counties.
Over the summer Gannett also sold the weekly Indianola (IA) Record-Herald. The paper was acquired by Amy Duncan, former editor and publisher, and her husband Mark Davitt, a former managing editor of the paper.
Duncan and Davitt already published the Indianola Independent Advocate online news site. The staff of that title will serve the Record-Herald, and the online stories will appear in the Record-Herald print edition.
"Between the two of us, we worked at the Record-Herald for close to 50 years," Duncan told the Des Moines Register. "Mark and I love providing readers with great coverage of Warren County online. We’re excited to give them the option of getting that news in print as well."
Trib Total Media acquired the quarterly magazine Shady Ave, which serves the East End neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, from Nancy Polinski Johnson.
Jim McGauley sold the weekly Baker County Press in MacClenny, Florida, to his longtime advertising director, Jessica Prevatt. Prevatt has been with the Press since 1998 and plans to expand the operation.
Fargo-based Flag Family Media acquired the McKenzie County Farmer, the county’s oldest business, from the Shipman family. The transaction is the company’s first purchase of a non-radio entity and adds The Farmer to a group that includes two radio stations in North Dakota, as well as three stations in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
Sunshine Communications, a division of the Sunshine Initiative Public Benefit Corporation, acquired the Claremont Eagle Times from Sample News Group, as well as the Argus Champion, which stopped publishing in 2020. Sunshine Communications, owned and operated by Jay Lucas, also publishes the online Newport Times.
The Valley News & Views in Drayton, North Dakota was acquired by Bob and Diane Simmons, owners of Simmons Multimedia Stations and the Borderland Press. The operation had been owned by Lesa Van Camp, who had announced she would be closing the paper if a buyer was not found.
The Colorado Springs Independent, a weekly known as the Indy, is being acquired by Sixty35Media, a new nonprofit. The deal will include the Colorado Springs Business Journal, the Southeast Express, the Pikes Peak Bulletin in Manitou Springs, The Transcript legal publication and two newspapers under Colorado Springs Military Group: The Fort Carson Mountaineer and the Space Orbital for Schriever Space Force Base.