New ownership for Hampton Union, Seacoast Media Group

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Hampton Union, September 6, 2013

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

NEW YORK — News Corp., parent company of Seacoast Media Group and the Hampton Union, announced Tuesday that it has sold the Dow Jones Local Media Group — which operates 33 publications, including eight daily and 15 weekly newspapers, in seven states — to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group.

Fortress Investment Group is the principal shareholder of GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States. Dow Jones Local Media Group operations will be managed by GateHouse Media.
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In addition to the Hampton Union, Seacoast Media Group publishes the daily Portsmouth Herald and twice weekly Exeter Newsletter in New Hampshire, and the weekly newspapers York County Coast Star and York Weekly in Maine.

Seacoast Media Group's commercial print division also prints The Telegraph, New Hampshire Union Leader, Foster's Daily Democrat and 150 other publications on presses in Portsmouth and Dover.

"Our team at SMG feels that we've come up with the best possible suitor in what has been a long process," said Seacoast Media Group Publisher John Tabor. "First, GateHouse is a respected presence in New England newspapering, with many resources here. Second, GateHouse understands local newspapers thrive when the decisions are kept local. Third, GateHouse has a sound strategy for local newspapers to cross the digital divide and diversify revenue. So, we're excited about this new future for our readers and our staff. We remain committed to giving you news and information that is indispensable to your daily life."

Started by Charles Francis Adams in 1899, the Hampton Union served then the same towns it serves now— Hampton, North Hampton, Seabrook, and Hampton Falls.

Initially sold for three cents at the newsstand and $1 a year, it grew unopposed, and later expanded with the summer tourist publication, the Beachcomber.

The most famous of its several publishers was former Gov. Wesley Powell.

In 1975, Essex County Newspapers purchased the Hampton Union and the Beachcomber.

The Union was then owned by Dow Jones' Ottaway Newspapers, which also purchased the Exeter News-Letter. When Ottaway bought The Portsmouth Herald in 1997 it created a new company for the daily newspaper, the Union and the Exeter News-Letter called Seacoast Newspapers. In 2001, Seacoast Newspapers added the York County Coast Star and The York Weekly to its portfolio of publications. Recognizing the growing importance of digital publishing, Seacoast Newspapers became Seacoast Media Group in 2002. The company was bought by News Corp. in 2007, as part of its acquisition of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.

The Dow Jones Local Media Group has franchises in California, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon and Pennsylvania. In addition to the Herald in New Hampshire, the daily newspapers include Ashland Daily Tidings in Oregon; Cape Cod Times of Barnstable, Mass.; Mail Tribune of Oregon; Pocono Record of Stroudsburg, Pa.; The Record of Stockton, Calif.; The Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass.; and Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y.

The Dow Jones Local Media Group, formerly known as Ottaway Community Newspapers, operates print and online assets, including daily, Sunday and weekly newspapers; Web sites; magazines; and other news and advertising niche publications.

"These newspapers share a strong tradition of service in their communities and a highly talented staff," said Robert Thomson, chief executive of News Corp. "We are confident that the papers will prosper under the new owners, but they were not strategically consistent with the emerging portfolio of the new News."

GateHouse Media's portfolio includes more than 400 community publications, approximately 350 related Web sites and Propel Marketing, a provider of digital services to small- and mid-sized companies.

Telecommunications, media and technology industry investment bankers Waller Capital Group were involved in coordinating the sale of the Dow Jones Local Media Group.

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