The Northrop family is selling its Observer Publishing Co. assets to Ogden Newspapers, owned by the Nutting family of Wheeling, West Virginia.
OPC publishes the daily Observer-Reporter, based about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, as well as the weekly Almanac, other monthly and specialty magazines, a digital services agency called Reimagine Maine Street and an events business.
Ogden publishes more than 40 daily newspapers, including 10 in Pennsylvania, with the Uniontown Herald-Standard and Altoona Mirror among the largest.
“It is increasingly difficult for an independent company to go it alone,” said Tom Northrop, OPC president and publisher and a fourth-generation shareholder in the company. “We chose Ogden because we believe they’re in the best position to continue our mission for generations to come. The Nutting family understands the role that a newspaper plays in a community, they share our commitment to local news and they’re deeply invested in the region.”
“We are very pleased to have been chosen to be the successor publisher of the Observer-Reporter,” said Perry Nardo, regional publisher of Ogden Newspapers. “We believe very strongly in the power of printed newspapers. We believe in their value to readers, advertisers and communities. The role of credible media outlets like the Observer-Reporter is fundamentally important, now more than ever.”
Ogden will continue to support an agreement OPC made in 2017 with Washington & Jefferson College to develop a small-business incubator in its former circulation building in downtown Washington.
“We made continuing this joint venture a high priority as we explored a sale,” said Northrop. “The Nuttings needed no convincing that this was a great idea for our town and a valuable partnership for the company. We know their business expertise will be invaluable as the project progresses.”
The Observer Publishing Co. was formed July 24, 1902, by John L. “Jack” Stewart and E.F. Acheson. Stewart’s grandsons, John L.S. Northrop and William B. Northrop, owned and ran the company until their retirements in June 2002, when ownership was transferred to the fourth generation.
Thomas Northrop, president and publisher, and Lucy Northrop Corwin, director of news, currently serve as officers of OPC. Both were to leave the company when the sale is completed.
The transaction was expected to close by Sept. 30. The brokerage Cribb, Greene and Cope represented the Northrop Family and OPC in the sale.
Separately, Les and Jennifer Goodstein were advised on by Gary Greene of Cribb, Greene, and Cope in a sale that created one of the largest publishers of community newspapers, niche publications, events and websites in New York state.
The Goodsteins sold Community News Group and NYC Community Media to Schneps Communications, a family-run business owned by Victoria and Joshua Schneps.
The resulting company, to be known as Schneps Community News Group has a total printed weekly circulation of more than 300,000 copies, a digital reach of more than 2.5 million page views per month, and hosts more than 40 events every year.