A new venture has been set up by nine family-owned US newspaper groups to provide other like publishers with an alternative to selling to big national companies.

The result of nearly two years of discussion, Family Newspapers of America plans to focus on acquiring titles with circulations between 25,000-75,000.

The nine companies – whose own circulations vary from 10,000 to 150,000 – are: Erie, Pennsylvania’s Times Publishing Company; Gazette Communications in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; the Eagle-Tribune Company in North Andover, Massachusetts; Spokane, Washington’s Spokesman-Review; Calkins Newspapers in Levittown, Pennsylvania; the same state’s Scranton Times; American Republican in Waterbury, Connecticut; Reno, Nevada’s Swift Newspapers; and Newspapers of New England in Concord, New Hampshire.

“Our feeling is that papers that are family run are usually looking for a good home for their newspapers,” explained Swift Newspapers’ chairman Richard K Larson. “While I don't mean any disrespect to the big players, we are long-term investors. We feel we can pay market rates for our newspapers but with the added advantage of making the seller sleep better since it's in good hands.”

George Wilson, chief executive of Newspapers of New England, added that the move is not intended to encourage family owners to sell to the group straight away. “By emphasizing the values of family ownership,” he said, “We hope to give encouragement to those owners who wish to remain independent.”

Approximately 250 of America’s 1,500 daily newspapers are privately held by one family, with forty to fifty family-owned groups publishing more than one newspaper.

News source: New York Times