February 5, 2021

A newspaper acquisition company announced this week that the country’s largest newspaper chain was three papers smaller thanks to a sale to a second-generation, family-owned newspaper company.

Dirks, Van Essen & April announced in a press release that Reid Newspapers bought the Miami (Oklahoma) News-Record, the Grove (Oklahoma) Grand Lake News and The Delaware County (Oklahoma) Journal from Gannett. That company also represented Gannett in the sale and said “terms of the transaction were not disclosed.”

Gannett, which has more than 250 daily newsrooms, still has five other papers in the state, including The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman.

According to the press release:

Reid Newspapers is a second-generation, family-owned newspaper company that 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.

Also important, even if it lacks meaningful details such as if their pay and jobs would remain the same:

Current employees of the newspapers were offered continued employment with the transition.

Last year, Gannett shed about 500 employees through buyouts and layoffs after its merger with GateHouse. Like other newspapers around the country, Gannett is also closing printing plants in some cities, while in other cities it’s taking on the printing of newspapers from other companies.

Nationwide, the coronavirus has led to the closure of more than 60 newsrooms around the country, many through in-company “mergers,” and thousands of layoffs.

In his weekly newsletter, NewStart Alliance, which led with the news, Jim Iovino wrote about the strategy of experts in media acquisition. Iovino, West Virginia University Ogden Newspapers Visiting Assistant Professor of Media Innovation, quoted Dirks, Van Essen & April’s Sara April from a class late last year.

“One thing we’re seeing is some of the larger companies, whether it is a Gannett or a mid-size group, they’re really working on refining their strategies around digital, around publishing cycles,” April told our students. “And some of them are finding that strategy really lends itself better to certain circulation categories.  So maybe they’re really focused on their larger papers. So they’re looking to sell their smaller papers where the digital strategy just doesn’t translate as well.”

April added that that certainly rang true for Gannett.

“That’s really a clear strategy change for them,” she said. “The smaller papers don’t fit in with the strategies they’re moving forward with.”

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Kristen Hare teaches local journalists the critical skills they need to serve and cover their communities as Poynter's local news faculty member. Before joining faculty…
Kristen Hare

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