Pennsylvania publisher buys Oswego Shopper, Oswego County News and two other Upstate papers
By Stefan Yablonski
Sample News Group, which owns The Palladium-Times in Oswego, has purchased four other Upstate New York newspapers.
It has acquired the Batavia Daily News, Livingston County News, Oswego County News and the Oswego Shopper.
The publications were previously owned by the Johnson Newspaper Corp. in Watertown.
The sale price is not being disclosed, according to Alec Johnson, president of JNC.
The Sample News Group is a privately held publishing company based in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. It is the parent company of Oswego County Media Group. It publishes The Palladium-Times, The Valley News, The Oswego County Advertiser and online at OswegoCountyNewsNow.com.
They also own 17 daily newspapers and more than 35 weeklies and specialty magazines. The company owns and operates 30 local websites and six centralized production facilities, employing more than 700 people in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont and New Hampshire.
The Sample group approached JNC and they both agreed that the Oswego publications are a natural fit with their daily newspaper, Johnson said, adding, Batavia is also a good fit for their company.
The announcement was made March 22 jointly by owner George “Scoop” Sample of Sample News Group, and Johnson.
“We are thrilled to be adding these publications to our Sample News Group family,” Sample said in the statement. “These news operations have been successfully run by the Johnson family and we look forward to continuing to serve these revitalized regions of Western and Central New York.”
“We are proud to be passing on the stewardship of these community newspapers to Sample News Group, as we continue to publish daily and weekly newspapers,” Johnson said in the statement. “Sample, like Johnson Newspaper Corp., is a company with its family name attached. Scoop has proven to us that he has the commitment and ability to ensure the continued success of these community newspapers.”
Ownership starts May 1
Sample News Group will officially take ownership of two of the publications on May 1. They currently operate three properties and a printing plant in Oswego under the leadership of Publisher Sharon Lynett. She began integrating the Oswego County News and Oswego Shopper into her existing operation in early April.
“It’s all happening very quickly,” Lynett said. “The two Oswego papers we actually acquired in April. The Batavia and Livingston, that’s May 1, so there’s a little bit of breathing room there.”
Brian Nalepa, regional vice president of Sample News Group, will oversee operations.
The Shopper won’t compete with the Pall-Times.
“Not necessarily; what it really did compete against was our Oswego County Advertiser,” Lynett explained. “But we send them different routes — their Shopper is like a saturation of 13126 zip code. Ours is more rural. We have some in Oswego, some in Fulton, so combining them is actually going to make a stronger product. It’s exciting stuff. Their whole team is going to come on over here. That whole crew will stay the same.”
“As we have reviewed our business, we made major changes in the past year and set forth on a path to return to our company’s roots in Northern New York,” Johnson told Oswego County Business Magazine following the announcement. “Our Watertown Daily Times has been in the family for four generations, and the papers outside of northern New York were acquired when the FCC forced the company to sell WWNY TV in the 1980s.”
“We look forward to publishing the Watertown Daily Times, St. Lawrence Plaindealer, Ogdensburg Journal, Courier-Observer, Journal & Republican, Pennysaver and NNY360.com,” Johnson added. “It will mean a smaller, more nimble news business that is focused on the NNY region including Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.”