The Erie Times-News, family-owned since its founding, is sold

The Associated Press | Erie Times-News

More than a century of family ownership is coming to an end for the The Times-News of Erie, Pennsylvania.

The newspaper announced on Monday it's joining the tide of family-owned papers throughout the United States that have sold themselves to corporations as the consolidation of local news continues apace. A sale price was not disclosed.

The buyer is New Media Investment Group, Inc., formerly Gatehouse Media, which is the largest newspaper publisher in the United States by number of titles. The company has been on a shopping spree in recent months, buying (then selling) the Las Vegas Review-Journal after purchasing Halifax Media Group and The Providence Journal.

The purchasing of the Times-News follows a game plan outlined by New Media Investment Group earlier this year to make $1 billion in acquisitions during the next three years. New Media's rivals, Gannett and Tribune Publishing, have also set forth plans to buy up local newspapers in markets throughout the United States.

For the smattering of family-owned newspapers throughout the country, many of them in rural pockets, it's a seller's market, said Rick Edmonds, Poynter's media analyst.

"It certainly is fair to say the number continues to shrink — especially as digital transformation combined with cost control is so much easier for a chain — and chains like New Media and Gannett are on a buying spree."

The Erie Times-News has been owned by the Mead family since it was founded 127 years ago, according to the Times-News. Ed Mead, who formerly chaired the Times-News' parent company, died earlier this year at the age of 88.

Times-News publisher Ken Nelson said the corporate patronage will afford the newspaper resources that will allow it to stay vital, according to a statement published by the Times-News.

"The Meads have been good stewards of this community institution," said Ken Nelson, publisher of the Erie Times-News. "But the industry, and this newspaper, have evolved to the point where family-owned, independent newspapers face too many hurdles to survive long term without help."

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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