Dispatch Print Products Sold to New Media Investment Group

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

The Dispatch Printing Company has reached an agreement to sell its print publications to the New Media Investment Group Inc., based in New York, N.Y.

The sale includes The Dispatch, owned by the Wolfe family for 110 years; ThisWeek Newspapers, a collection of 24 suburban weeklies; and seven magazines, including Columbus Monthly, Columbus CEO and Capital Style.

The sale also includes three commercial properties: The Dispatch printing plant at 5300 Crosswind Dr., a five-story office building at 62 E. Broad St., and ThisWeek's offices at 7801 N. Central Dr. in Lewis Center.

Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.

The Wolfe family will continue to own and operate its broadcast holdings: WBNS-TV, the CBS affiliate in Columbus; WTHR-TV, the NBC affiliate in Indianapolis; RadiOhio Inc., which operates WBNS AM & FM radio stations; and the Ohio News Network, which supplies news, weather and sports to 70 radio stations across Ohio.

The Wolfe family also will continue to own Capitol Square Ltd., a commercial real-estate enterprise, and Agricultural Lands Inc., a portfolio of farming operations.

John F. Wolfe, chairman and publisher of The Dispatch, said the decision to sell was extraordinarily difficult, and only made after several years of careful assessment of the changing media landscape.

"We are proud of our 110-year legacy of family ownership of The Dispatch, and the newspaper's heritage of quality journalism and community involvement," Wolfe said.

"However, the past two decades of accelerating and challenging change in the newspaper industry made it clear to us that maintaining a single-city, family-owned paper in this environment was untenable long-term," he said.

"We remain committed to Columbus, and our family will continue to be fully involved in the civic, community and philanthropic endeavors that promote the high quality of life that exists in central Ohio," Wolfe said.

New Media Investment Group is a holding company that emerged from the bankruptcy of GateHouse Media Inc. in 2013. The company controls 126 dailies among its 550 publications in 32 states. The dailies include The Repository of Canton, Ohio, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Providence Journal and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. New Media alsooperates a national network of advertising and digital marketing businesses.

Michael J. Fiorile, president of The Dispatch Printing Company, said it was important to find a buyer with regional and national reach.

"We're confident that New Media has the resources necessary to support The Dispatch and enable it to advance andevolve in this rapidly-changing, digitally-dominant media landscape," Fiorile said.

Michael E. Reed, New Media's president and CEO, said the company is "committed to providing quality, local content and journalism, and we look forward to furthering these efforts to serve the community and employees of The Dispatch.

"We deeply admire The Dispatch's involvement in the community's development under the stewardship of the Wolfe family, and we at New Media are proud to be the new owners of this business, and look forward to continuing the tradition," Reed said.

After the sale of its printing operations, The Dispatch Printing Company will retain its corporate name, and will continue to operate out of its longtime headquarters at 34 S. Third St. Wolfe will remain chairman and Fiorile will remain president and CEO.