News Corp., parent company of Seacoast Media Group and the York County Coast Star, announced Tuesday that it has sold the Dow Jones Local Media Group — which operates 33 publications, including eight daily and 15 weekly newspapers, in seven states — to an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group.
Fortress Investment Group is the principal shareholder of GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based print and online media in the United States. Dow Jones Local Media Group operations will be managed by GateHouse Media.
In addition to the Star, Seacoast Media Group publishes the daily Portsmouth Herald, twice-weekly newspapers The Exeter News-Letter and The Hampton Union in New Hampshire, and weekly newspaper The York Weekly in Maine.
“Our team at SMG feels that we’ve come up with the best possible suitor in what has been a long process,” said Seacoast Media Group Publisher John Tabor. “First, GateHouse is a respected presence in New England newspapering, with many resources here. Second, GateHouse understands local newspapers thrive when the decisions are kept local. Third, GateHouse has a sound strategy for local newspapers to cross the digital divide and diversify revenue. So, we’re excited about this new future for our readers and our staff. We remain committed to giving you news and information that is indispensable to your daily life.”
F.W. Hartford bought The Penny Post in 1886 and changed its name to the Portsmouth Herald. Hartford and his descendants published the Herald for 82 years, selling to Thompson Newspapers of Canada in 1968. Dow Jones’ Ottaway Newspapers, which already owned The Exeter News-Letter and The Hampton Union, bought the daily paper from Thomson in 1997 and created a new company, Seacoast Newspapers.
In 2001, Seacoast Newspapers added the York County Coast Star and The York Weekly to its portfolio of publications. Recognizing the growing importance of digital publishing, Seacoast Newspapers became Seacoast Media Group in 2002. The company was bought by News Corp. in 2007, as part of its acquisition of Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal.
The Star got its start in 1876 in Biddeford as The Daily Evening Star. It moved to Kennebunk in 1878, and was re-named the Kennebunk Star in 1921. The paper was finally christened the York County Coast Star in 1965.
Over that time, the Star has had 10 owners.
“We’re excited to be a part of a company that understands the importance of strong community newspapers,” said Star Editor Laura Dolce. “As an award-winning community newspaper with a 137-year history, we have seen many changes in ownership over the years, yet our commitment to strong local journalism has not changed. We plan to continue to do what we have always done at the Star: tell the stories of our communities.”