The Princeton Packet has become part of a new company operated by the Trevose, Pa.-based media group Broad Street Media.
Packet publisher James Kilgore said he will still have a significant partnership interest in the company, though he will not be running day to day operations and this company will remain a separate independent company .
Details of the deal have not been disclosed. The transaction is expected to close on April 1. Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented the Packet Media Group in the deal.
“As far as operations go, in actuality I for many years worked through my managers who ran the day to day operations at Packet Media Group,” Kilgore said in an email to Planet Princeton about the deal Friday night. “We have a great team here and I feel this new opportunity is a very good partnership for our company and our future.”
Founded in 1786, the Packet now publishes five community newspapers. In 2015, the company shut down seven of its 12 local newspapers, laid off employees, and reduced the publication schedule for its flagship paper, the Princeton Packet, from twice a week to once a week. In late 2015 the company also shut down its commercial printing business, which printed the Daily Princetonian and Nassau Weekly at Princeton University. The Packet newspapers are now printed in Delaware.
Kilgore claimed circulation has remained about the same with the Packet company’s current five titles as when the company had twelve titles.
“We have tightened up like the rest of our industry but really we have refocused the company with our team of very dedicated, loyal, hardworking employees dedicated to providing the best editorial products we can with the resources available and that focus is not expected to change,” he said. “In this partnership we will gain from more operational synergies, support and have more products now to sell.”
The paper was purchased by former Wall Street Journal publisher Barney Kilgore in 1955. James Kilgore bought out the other family partners in 1999.
Kilgore, 67, will stay on as the publisher after the sale, according to a Princeton Packet post this morning about the deal.Packet Media general manager and marketing director Michele Nesbihal will also keep her current positions.
The Packet will remain at its current location on Witherspoon Street in Princeton.
“With the changing media landscape and challenges facing local community journalism, our company felt it was important to team up with another publishing group committed to community publishing,” Kilgore said in the Packet post about the deal. “The synergies that Broad Street offers will help the newly formed company and our dedicated and talented staff realize operating efficiencies and give the company access to newer technology and a team of professionals with deep roots in our industry.”
Like other newspapers across the country, circulation at the Packet has declined over the last several years. The company laid off several employees in 2011 and was for sale that same year. Kilgore later announced that he changed his mind and decided not to sell the media group.
Broad Street Media LLC was founded in 2010. The company publishes the Philadelphia Weekly newspaper and the Northeast Times. The company that owned the Philadelphia Inquirer sold the Northeast Times, My Community Trend, and the rest of the company’s community news division to Broad Street Media in 2010. Broad Street Media purchased the Philadelphia City Paper in 2015 and shut it down to eliminate the Philadelphia Weekly’s competition.
Darwin Oordt, 72, is the CEO of Broad Street Media. He is also the chief executive of the N.J. Media Group L.L.C. in East Hanover, which publishes 18 community papers in North Jersey. He was chief executive of Broad Street Publications in 2005, when it was owned by Knight Ridder Inc.. Knight Ridder was the former owner of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News.
Oordt will oversee the day-to-day operations of the new company, as well as its strategic direction.
Principals in Broad Street Media include Clifford and Stuart Richner of Richner Communications Inc., which publishes 28 community newspapers and shoppers, mostly on Long Island, New York.
Kilgore said he is not going anywhere, and that his mission has always been to community publishing as a community service.
“Community journalism is about helping to build well informed communities to be a force that binds people together. That to me, in the end , is what it is all about besides being a business,” he said.
This story has been updated to include comments and clarifications from Kilgore.