Sound Publishing, a community newspaper group based in Poulsbo, is now the proud new owner of the Sequim Gazette and the Forks Forum. In a separate transaction, Sound also this week purchased the Peninsula Daily News.
Sound is a division of Black Press, Ltd., a Canadian firm.
Brown M. Maloney, owner of Olympic View Publishing for 23 years, gave the news to Sequim Gazette employees during a Monday afternoon staff meeting. In addition to the Gazette and the Forks Forum, the company produces two real estate magazines, Olympic Peninsula Homes-Land and Islander Homes-Land. Islander is distributed in Island and San Juan counties.
Earlier that day Peter Horvitz announced to the staff at the Peninsula Daily News that his family’s company, Horvitz Newspapers, LLC, had sold the paper to Sound Publishing.
Maloney and Horvitz both said they had been unaware the other newspaper was negotiating a sale with Sound Publishing.
Maloney said he was pleased to sell to Sound Publishing, saying, “They are as committed to community journalism as I have been since 1988.”
Maloney said he and his wife, Sara, had been considering selling Olympic View Publishing for some time, but were looking for a buyer who would be a “good steward” for the company’s publications.
Maloney said he’s not retiring and he will continue to live in Sequim and remain active in community affairs. At the same time, he wants to spend more time working with The McClatchy Company, which his family owns. McClatchy, the third largest newspaper firm in the U.S., is based in Sacramento, Calif.
Maloney also is a board member of the Seattle Times Company.
With minority partner Todd Ortloff, Maloney will continue to own and operate ABC affiliate KONP, an AM/FM radio station in Port Angeles.
“We are thrilled with the purchase of the Sequim Gazette,” Black Press CEO David Black said. “We have been publishing community newspapers for 22 years in Washington state and see this as an opportunity to expand our operations to the North Olympic Peninsula, which is a good geographical fit with our other newspapers and website titles. The Gazette is one of the best newspapers in the state in terms of quality. We are proud to be the new stewards of the business.”
The new owners have announced that publisher Sue Ellen Riesau will continue overseeing the operations of the Gazette, Forum and the magazines.
“I have been with Brown for almost his entire 23 years here and of course I am sad to see the end of an era,” said Riesau. “At the same time, however, I have known and worked with Sound Publishing almost as long.”
Riesau said through the negotiations she felt “very connected, very comfortable with them. I know they are community-minded people. They really value community journalism. Their plan is to continue putting out the best possible product.”
Riesau said the Gazette’s advertisers can expect to see “the same great content in the newspaper and the same great service.”
“We will honor all of our contracts and our rates. We’re not changing the game.”
The Gazette has an average circulation of more than 8,000.
Seventeen years ago family owned Horvitz Newspapers owned three daily newspapers, two weeklies and seven semi-monthly newspapers. The PDN was the last remaining property.
“I knew we were going to sell and this was as good a time as any,” Horvitz said.
Horvitz added no one else in his family remains interested in the newspapers. Horvitz regularly traveled from his home in Kirkland to Port Angeles, but said he left most of the daily chores in the hands of the paper’s “very fine publisher,” John Brewer.
“I’m going to devote my time to my other interests,” Horvitz said after announcing the sale at the PDN’s Port Angeles office. “It’s been my profession all of my life. This is the first day I haven’t had to worry about a newspaper.”
Horvitz said he feels the future is bright for newspapers on the peninsula, saying, “I have great confidence that under the ownership of Sound and Black the PDN and the Gazette are secure.”
The latest report of the Audit Bureau of Circulations shows the PDN has an average Monday through Friday circulation of 14,096 and a Sunday circulation of 15,858.
The company said Sequim This Week, a free weekly, is distributed within the Sequim-Dungeness Valley to more than 11,000 households.
Both Maloney and Horvitz declined to discuss the details of the sales.