This is a periodic update of major sales and acquisitions that have occurred since the publication of The New Media Baron and the Emerging Threat of News Deserts. The report by the University of North Carolina’s School of Media and Journalism tracks the dramatic changes in newspaper ownership from 2004 to present. More details on recent sales and acquisitions are available at www.newspapersownership.com. You can download the report here.
Two large recently formed newspaper companies – one an investment firm and the other a privately held family-owned company – have pursued opposite acquisition and divestiture strategies in the past two months. The investment entity, 10/13 Communications, formed in 2009, has essentially exited the market, selling all but a handful of its small nondaily papers in the Southwest, while the family-owned Adams Publishing Group, founded in 2014, has doubled down and purchased more than 60 small papers in the Midwest and South.
In two separate transactions, 10/13 Communications, sold 38 of its 45 papers. Previously, 10/13 was the 20th largest newspaper owner in the country, in terms of number of papers. The privately held Hearst Corporation, which already owned the Houston Chronicle, purchased one daily and 23 weeklies in the Houston area from 10/13, with an average circulation of less than 20,000. With this purchase, Hearst now owns and operates more than 60 papers, including 17 dailies, with a total circulation of 1.7 million. The 14 Dallas-area weeklies owned by 10/13 were sold to S.A.W. Advisors, LLC, headed by Scott A. Wright, who has an extensive background in managing private equity-owned newspapers. In his Linkedin profile, Wright says, “My professional goal is to maximize value of media companies. This includes acquisitions, divestitures, substantial reorganizations and executive management.”
While 10/13 was shrinking, the Adams Publishing Group, based in Minneapolis, MN, more than doubled in size through the purchase of two private family-owned newspaper chains. It acquired 50 publications, including 42 weeklies in Minnesota with a total circulation of almost a half million, from ECM Publishers, one of the country’s largest publishers of weeklies. Adams also expanded into Tennessee and North Carolina with the purchase of 13 papers, including three dailies, from the fourth-generation, family-owned Jones Media.
The Adams Publishing Group, headed by investor Stephen Adams, is part of a private family-owned corporation that includes Adams Outdoor Advertising, Good Sam Enterprises, and Camping World. The Adams group now owns 108 newspapers in 11 states with a total circulation of one million. It is the country’s sixth largest newspaper company, when ranked by total number of papers.
Other notable recent purchases of long-standing, family-run independent papers include:
- The sale in Vermont of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Rutland Herald and its sister paper, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, to Maine-based partners Reade Brower and Chip Harris. The Mitchell family had owned the Rutland paper since 1947 and the Barre-Montpelier paper since 1964. The paper had been experiencing financial difficulties recently and dropped from daily to four times weekly publication this past summer.
- The sale of the 115-year-old Columbia Daily Tribune in Missouri, which had been owned by the Waters family for 111 years, to New Media/GateHouse, the largest chain in the country with more than 430 newspapers. Earlier in the year, New Media/GateHouse acquired the 200 year-old Fayetteville Observer, North Carolina’s oldest newspaper. The Observer had been locally owned by the same family through four generations for 93 years. Click here to watch an interview with Charles Broadwell, the former Publisher of the newspaper, on the difficult decision to sell.
Visit newspaperownership.com to view a detailed list of all recent transactions.