October 2022 – January 2023Back to News
Strategic Add-Ons Continue; Independents Step Up
Since we last updated in October 2022, more than 70 additional newspapers have been sold. Local owners have stepped up in state after state to breathe new life into their hometown newspapers and larger buyers have continued to strategically expand regional clusters.
Sellers included the Brehm family, which exited the newspaper business after 103 years; Gannett Co., Inc, which continued to divest its smaller titles; and several families, including the Haynes and Cullis families.
One larger company, Shaw Media, diversified its portfolio outside of the newspaper space with the acquisition of a set of small radio stations within its footprint. Adams Publishing Group, Paxton Media Group, AIM Media Midwest, and HD Media all expanded regional publishing clusters.
Brehm completes exit
Brehm Communications, a family-owned newspaper company founded in 1919, completed the sale of its remaining newspapers in California and Utah in two transactions.
Gold Mountain California News Media Inc. acquired Brehm’s eleven California titles, six of which are located outside of Sacramento and the other five in the San Bernardino Mountains and neighboring high desert region.
The northern California cluster includes the twice-weekly Auburn Journal and the following weeklies: Folsom Telegraph, Roseville Press-Tribune, Placer Herald, The Loomis News, and Lincoln News Messenger.
The group in the southern part of the state includes six weeklies. The Big Bear Grizzly and Mountain News cover the resort and second home communities adjacent to Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake. The other titles in the group, The Hi-Desert Star, The Desert Trail, and The Desert Mobile Home News, serve residents of the Coachella Valley in the high desert just to the north of Palm Springs.
The new owners have newspaper assets throughout the United States and Canada, including several in California. These titles include the Marysville Appeal-Democrat and the Lodi News-Sentinel, as well as the recently acquired Grass Valley Union. Grass Valley is located less than 25 miles from Auburn.
Meanwhile, CherryRoad Media acquired Brehm’s three weekly Utah newspapers – The Richfield Reaper, The Vernal Express, and the Uintah Basin Standard.
Now with a presence in 15 states, CherryRoad Media has been among the most acquisition-minded companies during the past two years. The company says it is committed to reporting on local news with resident journalists in the communities that it serves. Its mission is to capitalize on its roots as a technology company to provide innovative media and technology services to its local communities while simultaneously improving the digital experience and engagement of its subscribers.
Paxton adds six in North Carolina
Paxton Media Group (PMG) acquired six newspapers in North Carolina from Gannett. The titles include the Lexington Dispatch, the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, the Burlington Times-News, the Kinston Free Press, the New Bern Sun Journal, and The Daily News of Jacksonville.
PMG, a 125-year-old family-owned media company headquartered in Paducah, Kentucky, is managed by fourth- and fifth-generation Paxton family members. The company has been a steady acquirer in recent years and now owns more than 100 newspapers across the Midwest and Southeast. Its other North Carolina papers include The High Point Enterprise and Goldsboro News-Argus.
Hawk Eye finds new owner
The Burlington (IA) Hawk Eye was acquired in December by Burlington Multimedia, LLC, an affiliate company of Community Media Group (CMG). Headquartered in West Frankfort, Illinois, CMG is owned by the Perrotto family. The paper had been owned by Gannett.
The Hawk Eye, the oldest daily newspaper in Iowa, traces its roots to 1837 and is credited with giving Iowa its nickname as the Hawkeye State. The newspaper serves five counties in southeastern Iowa, as well as two in northern Illinois.
CMG owns and operates community newspapers and websites in several states, including Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York.
New Mexico titles change hands
Silver City Independent Publishing Co., publisher of the Daily Press and Independent in Silver City, New Mexico, acquired the Silver City Sun-News and the Deming Headlight from Gannett. The company soon merged the Silver City Sun-News into the Daily Press and Independent.
Nickolas Seibel, a Silver City native, has owned the Daily Press and Independent since he purchased the newspaper from the Ely family in 2014. The Elys had owned the business since 1934. The Silver City newspapers date back to the founding of the weekly Silver City Independent in 1896.
On the other side of southern New Mexico, The Artesia Daily Press was sold to El Rito Media after nearly 70 years under the ownership of the Green family. The deal was just announced this week.
El Rito Media is owned by a group of New Mexico residents. Leading the purchase of the newspaper was Harvey E. Yates, Jr. of Albuquerque and his cousin, Artesia businessman and civic leader Peyton Yates. Other Yates family members on El Rito’s board are Peyton’s brother, Richard, of Santa Fe, and Harvey’s son, Emmons.
El Rito Media also purchased the Rio Grande Sun in Española, New Mexico in April of 2022.
Other investors in El Rito Media are State Representative Joseph Sanchez of Alcalde; Brian Ortiz, Española; Francisco Romero, Albuquerque; Ryan Cangiolosi, Albuquerque; Jalapeño Corp., Albuquerque; and Mosquito Corp., Santa Fe.
Parenting magazine sold
ParentCo LLC acquired Bay Area Parent from Dominion Enterprises of Norfolk, Virginia. Dominion Enterprises is a division of Landmark Media Enterprises, which divested its Landmark Community Newspapers division to Paxton Media Group in 2021.
Founded in 1983 and owned by Dominion Enterprises since 2000, Bay Area Parent magazine includes both electronic and print editions, an extensive network of electronic newsletters and the BayAreaParent.com website.
ParentCo LLC is an affiliate of the Silicon Valley-based Weeklys publishing group, which publishes 14 weeklies in Northern California in addition to producing consumer magazines, events and digital titles. Since 2020, Weeklys has acquired the East Bay Express, the Press Banner in Santa Cruz County and the Healdsburg Tribune while launching East Bay magazine and the Los Gatan in Los Gatos, California.
Familiar faces in Devils Lake
Kathy Svidal and MCM Media acquired the Devils Lake Journal and the Country Peddler in North Dakota from Gannett.
MCM Media owns the Thief River Falls Times and The Northern Watch in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, where Kathy Svidal serves as publisher. Svidal was previously publisher of the Devils Lake Journal for more than 35 years. One of her first orders of business was to bring back Louise Oleson, former editor at the Journal for 17 years.
Shaw diversifies with radio
Shaw Local Radio Co., a division of Shaw Media, announced it is acquiring eight radio stations from family-owned Studstill Media.
Included in the sale are WALS-FM in Oglesby; WIVQ in Spring Valley; WSTQ-FM, WSPL-AM and WYYS-FM, and W253BX in Streator; WGLC in Mendota; and WBZG in Peru. Shaw publishes newspapers in the markets where the radio stations are located.
Shaw Media, founded in 1851, publishes the third oldest continuously owned and operated family newspaper in the nation, the Dixon (IL) Telegraph. Shaw is the nation’s eighth-largest newspaper publisher with more than 300 employees, serving communities across northern Illinois.
Bridge News acquires travel company
William Schroeder sold TravelHost, a national travel magazine and website focused on business and leisure travel, to Bridge News LLC. Based in Farmington Hills, Michigan, Bridge News includes TV stations and digital assets.
The company was started in the 1960s and had been owned and operated by Bill Schroeder since 2013. TravelHost was the first to pioneer the national/local formula in the publishing industry, expanding its national brand through a unique system of local ownership of the magazine in individual cities. By the early 1980s, TravelHost established itself as the top magazine in market share in the hotel magazine sector.
Cox acquires Axios
Cox Enterprises, publisher of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dayton Daily News, and additional Ohio newspapers, acquired online publisher Axios Media in a deal that valued Axios at $525 million. This acquisition follows a previous investment by Cox Enterprises in the fall of 2021 and is part of Cox’s ongoing goal to grow and diversify the company.
Axios was founded in 2016 by Mike Allen, Jim VandeHei and Roy Schwartz, the same people who built Politico, with a focus on politics, technology, and business. In 2020, Axios started to expand significantly into local news.
When the deal was announced, Axios said it was operating in 24 cities with plans to expand its coverage to 30 U.S. cities by the end of 2022 and an eventual hope to be in hundreds of cities. It said most of Axios’ revenue comes from high-level, brand awareness advertising run by big companies across its 19 national newsletters, its website, and podcasts.
Times-Journal buys six
Times-Journal Inc. (TJI), parent company of the Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, purchased six metro Atlanta newspapers from Southern Community Newspapers Inc. (SCNI).
The publications included the Gwinnett Daily Post, Rockdale Citizen, Newton Citizen, Henry Herald, Clayton News, and the Jackson Progress-Argus.
TJI is led by Otis Brumby III, whose family has been in the newspaper business since 1916. He said TJI and SCNI have been working closely over the last several years, with SCNI outsourcing several operations to TJI, ranging from printing to customer service to pagination of its news pages.
The acquisition brings the number of Georgia newspapers and corresponding websites published by TJI to 21. Those publications now stretch from northwest Georgia throughout metro Atlanta and east to Madison.
Adams adds in Montana
Adams Publishing Group (APG) acquired Yellowstone Newspapers, publisher of 13 Montana newspapers and operator of a commercial printing operation.
APG owns more than 120 newspapers and 220 media-related and associated digital products. It purchased the group that owned the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and the Belgrade News in Montana in 2017.
Yellowstone’s newspapers include the Miles City Star, the Livingston Enterprise, and the Laurel Outlook. The company’s other newspapers are located in Lewistown, Glendive, Dillon, Hardin, Red Lodge, Big Timber, Columbus, Forsyth, Terry, and Stanford.
Wagners continue expansion
Iowa Information, owned by the Sheldon-based Wagner family, acquired the Carroll Times Herald and The Jefferson Herald in Iowa from the Wilson and Burns families, as well as The Record in Moville from Kent Baker.
This marks six newspapers to be acquired by the Wagner family in the last two years, as they purchased The Osceola County Gazette-Tribune in April 2021, followed by the Le Mars Sentinel and Remsen Bell-Enterprise in May.
Iowa Information is best known for publishing the award-winning N’West Iowa REVIEW, Iowa’s second-largest weekly newspaper. It also operates sister company White Wolf Web, a large regional state-of-the art printing plant. White Wolf prints more than 145 newspaper titles each week. The Times Herald and Jefferson products have been printing in Sheldon for five years. The Record began printing there in May.
With the publishing world continuing to evolve, Peter Wagner noted in an article in the N’West Iowa REVIEW the importance of finding synergies and savings. He noted growing through acquisition is the best way the company can do that while continuing to serve its audiences.
Iowa Information Media Group was started in 1962 by Peter W. and Connie Wagner. Jeff Wagner and his wife, Myrna, are the second generation of family members involved in day-to-day operations of the business. The company is transitioning to a third generation of leadership with their son, Sam Wagner, an Iowa State University finance and business analytics graduate.
West Virginia deal
HD Media purchased the Webster Echo, a weekly newspaper in Webster Springs, West Virginia, from the Cochran family. The purchase allows HD Media to continue growing its reach from its core in the southern half of West Virginia. The company also recently purchased the Virginia Mountaineer, a weekly in Grundy, Virginia.
In addition, 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.
AIM Media acquires two Ohio dailies
AIM Media Midwest, LLC acquired the daily Bryan Times and daily Northwest Signal in Ohio from Christopher Cullis. The papers serve Bryan, surrounding Williams County, Napoleon, and surrounding Henry County.
AIM Media Midwest owns and operates daily and weekly newspapers, affiliated websites, and a variety of related specialty publications in western and central Ohio.
The company is an affiliate of AIM Media Texas, LLC and AIM Media Indiana, LLC. The entities are managed by AIM Media Management of Dallas, Texas where Jeremy Halbreich serves as chairman and CEO and Rick Starks serves as president and COO. AIM Media focuses on local content across all forms of media including print, online and video.
Mullen Newspapers expands in Kansas
Steve and Cynthia Haynes sold Nor’West Publishing/Haynes Newspapers to Mullen Newspaper Company. The deal closed exactly 42 years after they purchased their first newspaper.
The transaction includes six northwest Kansas publications, including one daily newspaper, one twice weekly, four weekly newspapers, and a shopper product.
Jesse Mullen founded Mullen Newspaper Company five years ago after purchasing two community weekly newspapers in Southwest Montana. This addition brings Mullen Newspapers to 20 publications in six states: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, and Washington.
CherryRoad completes three spinoffs
CherryRoad Media, which has grown to own nearly 80 publications since 2021, spun off six recently acquired titles to local staffers in three deals.
Kyle Troutman and Jordan Troutman, editor and reporter at the Cassville (MO) Democrat, formed Troutman Media LLC to acquire their hometown weekly.
In Monett, Missouri, regional advertising manager Lisa Craft stepped up and acquired The Monett Times and Connection Magazine.
Finally, in Carroll County, Arkansas, managing editor Scott Loftis joined forces with photographer David Bell and former Berryville Chamber of Commerce director Steve Johnson to acquire the Lovely County Citizen, Carroll County News, and the Ozark Mountain Trader.
Upper Midwest papers sold
Thepaperboy.news purchased The Sentinel & Rural News from Multi Media Channels. Thepaperboy’s other area papers include the Stanley Republican and Pierce County Journal in Wisconsin and the Hastings Journal and Cottage Grove Journal in Minnesota.
Multi Media Channels, operated by the Wood family, publishes more than 30 print publications, including 22 weeklies and 17 digital channels that serve the central, northern, and eastern regions of Wisconsin.
California weekly saved
Marc Hand, Napa businessman and co-founder and chair of the National Trust for Local News, put together a group to acquire his hometown Yountville Sun when he heard it was in danger of closing.
He and four others created Highway 29 Publishing to buy the Yountville Sun and the Calistoga Tribune. Highway 29 Publishing will be set up as a public benefit corporation rather than a nonprofit, Hand said,. A public benefit corporation allows owners to make a profit while furthering the public interest.
CherryRoad Media acquired The Star-News in McCall, Idaho. The Star-News had been owned for almost 50 years by Central Idaho Publishing Inc.
After learning the Three Rivers Commercial-News intended to cease publication, Mike Wilcox, owner of a southwest Michigan newspaper group, purchased the paper.
Cars Holding, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Block Communications, acquired Pittsburgh City Paper from Eagle Media, the publisher of the Butler Eagle, which had operated the weekly tabloid paper and digital site since 2016. The striking members of the Block Communications-owned Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have asked the Department of Justice to look into the Pittsburgh City Paper deal.