GateHouse Media to buy Bucks County Courier Times, other Calkins properties

One of the last family-owned media companies in the region, Calkins Media, will be sold to GateHouse Media.

Calkins Media has served local newspaper and television markets in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Florida and Alabama for almost 80 years. The small, family-owned company completed the sale of its TV assets in April. All of its remaining newspaper assets, including the Bucks County Courier Times, will be sold.

The Courier Times, The Intelligencer in Doylestown, the Burlington County Times, the Beaver County Times and the Ellwood City Ledger and Calkins Digital will be purchased by GateHouse Media. The Uniontown Herald-Standard, weekly Greene County Messenger and other properties will be purchased by Ogden Newspapers.

The deals are expected to close June 30. The terms of the sales were not immediately disclosed.

“All of us grew up and many still live in these communities and have a sense of responsibility to serve them,” said Charles Smith, who serves on Calkins’ board of directors and is a third-generation family member. “To not have a role in that anymore is extremely difficult for us.”

In  a story posted on the Bucks County Courier Times website, Smith and board member Stan Ellis said the decision was a difficult one.

“Our family always felt that we had the right vision and strategy for adjusting to the changing patterns of news consumers. Our concern for the past several years was whether we would have the resources to see that strategy through to its successful conclusion,” he said. “When it became clear that would not be the case, we came to the painful decision that we would have to find media companies that shared our vision and had the resources to complete what we started.”

GateHouse Media publishes 656 community and business publications, including 130 daily newspapers and more than 555 affiliated websites in 36 states. GateHouse is one of the largest media companies in the country and is overseen by the New Media Investment Group, a publicly traded company that must answer to investors.

Ogden Newspapers owns more than 40 daily newspapers, along with a number of weeklies and a magazine division. Pittsburgh Pirates owner Robert Nutting is the CEO.

The sale continues a national consolidation trend of local media once owned by families. The largest media companies in the country are snapping up the smaller media properties. GateHouse Media has acquired several publications in the past two years, including the Erie Times-News, The Fayetteville  Observer and The Columbia Daily Tribune. Gatehouse offered buyouts at its news outlets across the country in 2016. This year the company has continued to cut costs as it buys more publications.

The Bergen Record was bought by Gannett last year. The company slashed more than 140 jobs at its New Jersey newspaper group earlier this year.