Fayetteville Observer sold to GateHouse Media
Posted July 28
Fayetteville, N.C. — The Fayetteville Publishing Company announced Thursday that it is selling the Fayetteville Observer to GateHouse Media LLC, one of the largest publishing companies in the U.S.
The sale also includes other Fayetteville Publishing businesses and will end 93 years of local ownership of the company, the paper said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The Fayetteville Observer is North Carolina's oldest newspaper, celebrating its 200th anniversary, and it has been the largest independent newspaper in North Carolina and one of the largest family-owned papers in the country.
Publisher Charles Broadwell, who followed in the footsteps of his uncle and grandfather in leading the newspaper, said he has been working on the deal for about a year as the paper faced dwindling circulation and was forced to downsize. The newspaper has about 350 employees, down about 100 from its peak.
"It takes a lot of commitment, and the family has maintained that commitment again for going on four generations and proud to carry it this far," Broadwell said. "Now, it's time to hand over the reins to a bigger company with national resources that, as a small family-owned entity, we just don't have that."
Employees used to reporting the news suddenly became the news and were caught off-guard by the sale.
"Right now, what we know is we've joined the GateHouse family and, specifically, what will become a 14-newspaper division concentrated mostly in North Carolina," Executive Editor Michael Adams said.
GateHouse, which is based outside Rochester, N.Y., publishes 125 daily newspapers and 316 weeklies, including the Wilmington StarNews, the Jacksonville Daily News and the Kinston Free Press in North Carolina.
Broadwell noted that the Wilmington paper is printed at the Fayetteville Publishing plant.
Representatives from GateHouse spent Thursday morning talking employees. It's unclear whether any layoffs or operational changes are planned.
Broadwell said newspaper operations will continue as normal until the deal is finalized. Even after that, he said, the Fayetteville Observer will continue to serve the region.
"The Fayetteville Observer will continue to remain strong. It just will not carry the corporate name of Fayetteville Publishing Company on it as we hand over the reins," Broadwell said.