It’s been a great year in the US for buying and selling newspapers.
Apart from the 19 mastheads Gannett sold in the last eight months, a portfolio of 46 mastheads in seven states was sold by Landmark Communications to Paxton Media, which was both a buyer and seller during the period. And many more were smaller transactions often between family-owned companies.
In a review of the period during which more than 160 newspapers changed hands, Sara April of Dirks, Van Essen & April notes the transitions and the commitment frequently behind them.
One of the biggest was that of CherryRoad Media – founded less than a year – which bought 20 titles from Gannett (three pictured) to bring its total to 27 of them, in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri.
“From coast to coast, independent, local owners are also acquiring papers,” she says. “Some are content to own a single title while others are building clustered groups.”
From the 6000-population International Falls, CherryRoad chief executive Jeremy Gulban saw an “exciting opportunity” when he heard the local Journal was being closed, and launched the Rainy Lake Gazette within weeks.
April reports his comment that a common theme has been that those living in a community “took for granted” that the local paper would always be there.” He intended to “continue the legacy of the paper long into the future”.
More Gannett papers were acquired by Phillips Media –including the daily Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Arkansas and four papers in Missouri – joining others acquired from Gannett such as El Diario, New York’s largest Spanish language paper, and the Honolulu Star Bulletin. Family-owned Vernon Publishing which a group of publications in the Lake of the Ozarks region of Missouri, and Sexton Media Group, which bought the Neosho Daily News and the Aurora Advertiser, were also purchasers from Gannett, as was Larry Hiatt, owner of the Columbus News Report, and a group of local southeast Kansas families who bought the Pittsburg Morning News there.
Gannett editor Jonathan Vickery was also a purchaser, acquiring his hometown paper, the weekly Barnwell People Sentinel in South Carolina from Gannett in July.