Gannett Sells A Daily Paper p. 17

By: George Garneau Omaha World-Herald Co. buys Stockton, Calif., Record sp.

THE OMAHA WORLD-Herald Co. bought the Record, Stockton, Calif., from Gannett Co. Inc. on Nov. 28.
Terms were not disclosed but Omaha World-Herald business editor Steve Jordan, without citing a source, reported the deal cost about $75 million in cash.
With over 300 employees, the morning Record sells 53,000 papers daily, 60,000 Sunday, in agricultural San Joaquin County. While population in the fertile valley 100 miles east of San Francisco has more than doubled in 15 years to 520,000, circulation has remained flat.
World-Herald Co. president and CEO John Gottschalk said the paper was profitable, and the acquisition was consistent with the company's strategic plan for buying "good newspapers in growing markets."
The company bid unsuccessfully for Stauffer Communications earlier this year but lost out to Morris Communications.
Gottschalk said the Omaha, Neb.-based company's operating philosophy is "deeply rooted in building communities, markets and our newspapers," and the company intends "to invest in this market, our people, the newspaper and the community."
The acquisition, the World-Herald Co.'s largest to date and farthest afield, gives it its seventh daily, a lineup led by the flagship World-Herald, with 240,000 circulation daily, 303,000 Sunday. Its other newspapers are in South Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico.
World-Herald Co. ? closely held by employees, with a 15% interest in the hands of a local charity, the Peter Kiewit Foundation ? began buying newspapers in 1980. Its last newspaper acquisition was the Current-Argus, Carlsburg, N.M., a year ago. Other holdings include a suburban weekly group, direct mail company, alternate delivery company and children's magazine.
Terry Kroeger, who headed all the company's papers but the World-Herald, was named the new president and publisher of the Record to replace Virgil Smith, who is staying with Gannett.
Kroeger, who is 32 and has been with World-Herald Co. for 10 years, said no plans had been set for the paper but he expected some changes.
In other immediate developments, production director Mike O'Connor was replaced by Gregg Baxter, who was World-Herald quality assurance manager, and the Record created a new position of director of administration services for Steve Peterson, who had been corporate services manager for World-Herald Co.
Kroeger said in an interview that his goals included increasing circulation and improving reproduction. The paper is printed on outmoded Goss letterpress equipment.
Citing a confidentiality agreement, he declined to reveal the terms of the transaction ? despite Gottschalk's declaration in a prepared statement that the company is "as open and honest as the Plains from which we originate."
The Record dates from 1895, when Irvin Martin purchased the weekly Commercial Record and went on to publish the Stockton Daily Record for over 50 years.
It was acquired in 1969 by Reno, Nev.-based Speidel Newspapers Inc., which in 1977 was bought by Gannett Co., now based in Arlington, Va.
Asked why Gannett sold the paper, corporate spokeswoman Sheila Gibbons said the buyers "presented us with a very, very impressive offer."


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