GateHouse Sells Florida Daily to NYT Co.

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The News Chief daily newspaper in Winter Haven has been sold to The Ledger in Lakeland and its parent company, The New York Times Co. Officials from News Chief Publishing and GateHouse Media Inc. announced the sale Tuesday. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The News Chief in Winter Haven will continue publishing a daily newspaper with a separate news staff and editorial board, said The Ledger’s publisher, Jerome Ferson.

Nelson Kirkland, The Ledger’s advertising director, will become publisher of The News Chief, Ferson said.

About 25 News Chief staff members from its news, advertising and circulation departments have been offered positions with the paper when it moves into The Ledger’s offices in Winter Haven next Monday.

The News Chief has about 70 employees and a daily circulation of about 7,500. The Ledger has a circulation of 72,000 on weekdays and 89,000 on Sundays, Ferson said.

GateHouse Media, based in Fairport, N.Y., bought The News Chief as part of a package of 16 other community newspapers from Morris Communications on Dec. 1. The central Florida newspaper did not fit in with GateHouse’s 100 other papers, mostly in New England and the Midwest, said Tom Quinn, a regional manager for GateHouse.

GateHouse has offered severance packages to employees not hired by The New York Times Co., Quinn said.

The News Chief began publishing as The Florida Chief in 1911. Its logo of a man wearing a headdress will be removed out of respect to American Indian culture, Ferson said.

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