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End Of An Era - Dispatch Sold To New York Firm

Owners of The Columbus Dispatch have agreed to sell the paper to a NY firm

After 110 years the Wolfe family plans to sell The Columbus Dispatch.

The Dispatch Printing Company announced this morning it has agreed to sell its print publications to the New Media Investment Group, based in New York City. 

The sale includes The Dispatch, ThisWeek Newspapers, a collection of 24 suburban weeklies; and seven magazines, including Columbus Monthly, Columbus CEO 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.

The sale does not include the Dispatch Printing Company's broadcast operations - WBNS-TV  and Radio in Columbus, WTHR -TV in Indianapolis, and the Ohio (radio) News Network. 

In a letter, publisher John F. Wolfe said the decision to sell comes amid rapid and unprecedented change in the newspaper industry.

"After several years of operational adjustments and careful assessment of the factors influencing The Dispatch’s performance, we concluded the paper’s future success is most enhanced within a newspaper company that has both regional and national reach, as well as strong marketing and digital operations, providing the economies of scale essential for optimum efficiency," Wolfe wrote.

In a statement, New Media Michael Reed praised The Dispatch for its long history of excellent journalism and community involvement.  "We at New Media are proud to be the new owners of this business, and look forward to continuing their tradition," Reed wrote.

Former Dispatch Managing Editor Mike Curtin says family-owned newspapers have become a dying breed. Still he says the sale of the Dispatch to a national media group will mean a big loss for the city. 

"When you lose an iconic ownership as I say whether its the Lazaruses or the Wolfes or the Galbreaths, the town loses a whole lot. No question about it," Curtin told WOSU.
Mike Curtin is a state representative who previously worked for the Dispatch for 38 years. 
New Media owns 490 community publications around the country including The Canton Repository.

The sale price was not disclosed.

New Media intends to fund the acquisition with a combination of cash on the balance sheet and an incremental $25 million on the company's existing term loan.   The deal is expected to be complete this summer.  

You can hear Marilyn Smith's interview with former Dispatch Managing Editor Mike Curtin .

Mike Thompson spends much of his time correcting people who mispronounce the name of his hometown – Worcester, Massachusetts. Mike studied broadcast journalism at Syracuse University when he was not running in circles – as a distance runner on the SU track team.