Ogden to Acquire Byrd Newspapers in Virginia

  The Byrd family, owners of daily newspapers in Winchester and Harrisonburg, Virginia, has reached an agreement to sell its publications to Ogden Newspapers, a family-owned newspaper group with 43 daily newspapers published in 16 states.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented the Byrd family in the transaction. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The sale includes the The Winchester Star and WinchesterStar.com website, the Daily News-Record of Harrisonburg, VA and its associated website, dnronline.com. Other publications included are the Page News & Courier, The Warren Sentinel, The Shenandoah Valley-Herald, The Valley Banner and Skyline publications.

"My family is extremely proud to become the successor publisher of the Byrd Newspapers," Ogden Chief Executive Officer Robert M. Nutting said. "We look forward to carrying on the long tradition of the Byrd family publishing great community newspapers serving Winchester, Harrisonburg and the surrounding region."

Byrd newspapers Chairman and Publisher Thomas T. Byrd said, "To be grateful for the opportunity to be the fourth generation of the Byrd family to contribute to publishing quality local newspapers is an understatement. To have the opportunity for a 42-year professional partnership with my father was so special and valued. To have the opportunity for a six-year professional partnership with my son has been so special and valued."

The Byrd family has been in the publishing business in the Shenandoah Valley since 1897. Five generations of the Byrd family have been involved in the management of the business.

Ogden Newspapers has similar longevity as a family owned and managed business, having been founded by H.C. Ogden in 1890 when he began publishing the Wheeling (WV) News. A member of the family's fifth generation, Cameron Nutting Williams, will serve as Regional Publisher participating in the management of the acquired publications as well as other Ogden properties in the region including the Frederick (MD) News Post, The Northern Virginia Daily of Strasburg and The Journal in Martinsburg, West Virginia.

The history of transactions between the Ogden and Byrd families goes back to 1912 when Harry F. Byrd Sr. sold the Martinsburg Journal, which he founded in 1907, to Ogden Newspapers.

"It's remarkable that the Byrd family and its descendants and our family both have been publishing newspapers for roughly 130 years," Nutting said. "For more than a century, the Byrds have been making a huge contribution to the publishing industry. We look forward to carrying on their mission here."

Ogden continues to be aggressive in the acquisition of newspaper properties.

"We still believe very strongly in the power of printed newspapers and our family continues to be willing to invest in newspapers and we are excited about the potential that the Byrd publications bring to our company," Nutting said. "When you combine the print circulation and online readership, these newspapers reach more people in their respective markets than any other media outlet. They will continue to be a strong connection to the communities they serve and will deliver real value to their readers and advertisers."

"Working together with our other newspapers in the region, the Byrd Newspapers will be part of a much larger news gathering organization which will present an even stronger news report for all of our readers in this region," Nutting said.

The transaction is expected to close at the end of March.

Ogden, headquartered in Wheeling, also publishes newspapers in Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah.

The company also has many weekly newspapers across the country and a list of magazines based in Topeka, Kansas, including Grit and Mother Earth News. The Nutting family also owns Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Pennsylvania and is the majority owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates Major League Baseball franchise.


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