Ownership of the newspapers of the Morris Publishing Group, including The Augusta Chronicle, transferred to GateHouse Media on Monday. The signing of a purchase agreement had been previously announced.
The sale includes 10 other daily newspapers and many non-daily publications.
GateHouse Media is one of the largest publishers of locally-based media in the United States, publishing 125 daily newspapers and hundreds of community publications.
“The transition will be seamless to our readers,” said Stephen Wade, president of The Chronicle. “GateHouse is committed to serving the greater Augusta community and will bring additional resources to the paper.” Wade previously served with the company in several Midwest markets.
William S. Morris III will remain The Chronicle’s publisher.
GateHouse Media places a high priority on journalism and numerous company newspapers have been recognized with state, regional and national journalism awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.
GateHouse Media journalists are dedicated to high-impact reporting, said Bill Church, senior vice president of news. Church cited the Journal-Register in Springfield, Illinois, for its series on the state’s dire financial situation, the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio for its extensive exploration into the city’s future, and the Rockford, Illinois, Register Star’s report on segregation in local schools.
“Our journalists are experts at identifying high-touch community issues,” said Church. “With our watchdog mentality, we challenge community leaders and serve as advocates for our readers. This is the journalism we value most, and what you can expect under GateHouse Media leadership.”
This year, GateHouse Media continued its acquisition of newspapers, including Dix Communications in Ohio and Calkins Media in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. As it grows, the company is committed to maintaining and expanding local and regional coverage of the communities it serves.
The company owns 71 daily and 181 weekly newspapers and has 11 newspaper partners, including the Dallas Morning News.
Other divisions of GateHouse Media include UpCurve, a leading provider of digital marketing and cloud services to small and mid-sized businesses and BridgeTower Media, publisher of legal, financial, real estate and government affairs journals across more than 20 U.S. markets.
The Morris family has had ties with The Chronicle since 1929 when William S. Morris Sr., joined the newspaper as a bookkeeper. The Morris family’s modern-day company was established in 1945 with the creation of Southeastern Newspapers Inc., which grew to become Morris Communications Corp. in 1970. Morris Publishing Group was created in 1991.
“We’re extremely proud to have the opportunity to uphold the traditions of journalism and community service that the Morris family has shown over the past 72 years,” said Kirk Davis, CEO of GateHouse Media. “We look forward to being an integral part of these communities, and working closely with local businesses.”
The Chronicle, the south’s oldest newspaper, was founded in 1785. Morris III, who delivered the newspaper from horseback as a boy, joined the company in 1956, after receiving a journalism degree from the University of Georgia, as assistant to the president. A decade later he became publisher of The Chronicle and The Augusta Herald newspapers and president of the corporation.