Lee Enterprises, Incorporated, a major provider of local news, information and advertising in 49 markets, announced today an agreement to purchase the assets of The Dispatch-Argus, including QCOnline.com and related publications serving Moline, Rock Island and dozens of other communities in western Illinois.
The Dispatch-Argus publishes seven mornings a week, with a combined average daily circulation of more than 25,000. It is owned by the Small Newspaper Group, based in Kankakee, IL. The sale is expected to close later this month.
Kevin Mowbray, Lee president and chief executive officer, said Debbie Anselm, publisher of the Quad-City Times and Muscatine Journal, will additionally become publisher of The Dispatch-Argus. She will succeed publisher Gerald J. Taylor.
“Lee is honored for The Dispatch-Argus to be joining our media family,” Anselm said. “Our newspapers share rich histories of community leadership dating to the mid-1800s. In Moline, Rock Island, Davenport and Muscatine, we have embraced the same values for more than 150 years, an enduring commitment to strong local news and unfailing dedication to our readers and advertisers. That commitment and dedication will continue. The Dispatch-Argus will maintain its editorial independence and distinct voice as an indispensable community asset.”
Tom Biermann has been appointed general manager of The Dispatch-Argus, Anselm said. He is a former publisher of the Casper (WY) Star-Tribune, where he previously served as circulation director and sales and marketing director. His career also includes general manager of the European and Middle East editions of Stars and Stripes, a daily newspaper delivered to U.S. military bases.
Dispatch-Argus President Len R. Small said the owners need to have a smaller and more manageable footprint in the Midwest. The Small Newspaper Group owns three other daily newspapers and several magazines and digital services in Illinois and Minnesota.
“The choice of selling this property after a half-century was a difficult but necessary move,” Small said. “It has been a great journey under the leadership of Gerald J. Taylor, whose storied career includes the launching of the Sunday edition, the purchase of The Rock Island Argus, the conversion to morning delivery and the founding of QCOnline.com at the beginning of the digital age.
“We will miss our associates and the opportunity to work with them for this community. We wish them and the new owners well.”
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Small Newspaper Group in the transaction.