Juneau, Homer, Kenai newspapers get new owner in sweeping sale
Three Alaska newspapers have been sold to a New York-based media company, among nearly a dozen papers and U.S. media properties involved in the same deal.
Atlanta, Ga.-based Morris Communications announced the sale of the Juneau Empire, the Homer News and the Kenai Peninsula Clarion to GateHouse Media Inc., in a statement on its website. GateHouse's parent company, the New Media Investment Group, said the acquisition cost $120 million and also includes newspapers in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas and Texas.
The sale, officials said in the Morris statement, is part of a restructuring to focus its business on “lifestyle and niche publications, broadband operations, property development and new business.” A call to Morris requesting comment was not immediately returned early Wednesday.
GateHouse Media publishes more than 130 daily newspapers and 600 other publications in a total of 36 states, according to its website. Company officials declined to comment on the purchase of the Morris papers Wednesday morning.
Identical stories appearing on the three Alaska papers’ websites Wednesday said that Morris would retain ownership of the Juneau Empire’s location on Egan Drive, where that paper would remain. Deedle McKenzie, who will remain in place as publisher of the Empire and the Peninsula Clarion, called the sale “bittersweet” but praised GateHouse as “a dynamic company that understands community journalism.”
William S. “Billy” Morris III, chairman of the privately held company, said in the statement that the Morris family has had “a great love and passion for journalism and the local communities that they serve.”
“However, every newspaper company in America is battling trends and redirected advertising dollars, so it is necessary for newspapers to be part of a large newspaper group to build and maintain the necessary resources to compete,” Morris said. “We are deeply grateful for the many friendships and business relationships we have enjoyed for these many years and look forward to the impact the next generation will make.”
The Morris papers’ story listed other papers included in the sale as the Augusta Chronicle, the Savannah Morning News and the Athens Banner-Herald in Georgia; The Florida Times-Union and The St. Augustine Record in Florida; the Amarillo Globe-News and Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Texas; The Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas; and the Conway Log Cabin Democrat in Arkansas.
The sale is expected to be completed by Oct. 2, according to Morris.