MINNEAPOLIS — Adams Publishing Group, parent company of The Star Democrat and its affiliated weekly newspapers, has purchased the assets of two family-owned newspapers in Wisconsin.
Adams has purchased the Daily Jefferson County Union and the affiliated Hometown News Limited Partnership from W.D. Hoard & Sons Co. The sale includes a total of 13 community newspapers and shoppers, stretching across parts of six counties in south central Wisconsin.
Brian Knox, president of W. D. Hoard & Sons Company, will continue to operate its other businesses, including the Hoard’s Dairyman magazine, a magazine aimed at the dairy industry with world-wide distribution, other agricultural publications, a dairy farm, recently launched cheese products and other businesses.
The Daily Jefferson County Union was founded in 1870 by William Dempster Hoard. The Knox family eventually acquired the company from the Hoard family. Brian Knox, the second generation of the Knox family and current publisher, has been with the newspaper for the past 41 years.
Hometown News publishes the Sun Prairie Star, a twice-weekly newspaper, plus eight weekly newspapers: Milton Courier, Cambridge News/Deerfield Independent, Lake Mills Leader, Herald-Independent/McFarland Thistle (covering Monona, Cottage Grove and McFarland), Waterloo/Marshall Courier, Waunakee Tribune, DeForest Times-Tribune and the Lodi Enterprise/Poynette Press.
Knox said in a statement that his family’s interests are refocusing on other sectors of the company. “148 plus years ago this company was founded on community journalism. When I became publisher, almost all of the 37 daily papers in the state were independently owned, either as single papers or in small groups. Now there are fewer dailies and just a handful of independents left. One of the reasons for this is that in the 41 years I have been publisher, the industry has had to technologically re-invent the way we do business every three or four years to continue on. We have done this successfully and even our circulation numbers have fought the industry trend and grown the last few years. But the reality is that we’ve reached the point where we need to be much bigger to spread those costs and to take advantage of rapidly changing technologies.”
Adams Publishing Group also has purchased the assets of the Watertown (WI) Daily Times and Dodge County Independent News from James M. Clifford. The Watertown Daily Times is published Monday through Friday and the Dodge County Independent News weekly.
Members of the Clifford family have owned the Watertown Daily Times since 1919. James Clifford, chairman of the company, said that this was a difficult day for the family but felt the Times would be in a stronger position to compete in a challenging and fast changing competitive environment if it were part of a larger group.
“My family and I have enjoyed being stewards of this important community institution the past 99 years,” he said. “We believe we have selected a new owner that will carry on in the best interests of Watertown, the readers of the Daily Times and our wonderful employees.”
Clifford’s son Kevin is the fourth generation of the Clifford family to have worked at the company and currently serves as the editor and publisher. Both James and Kevin Clifford have served in leadership roles in a number of state and national newspaper organizations.
Adams Publishing Group principal Stephen Adams said, “We are extremely excited to have the Daily Jefferson County Union and the Hometown News community papers and the Watertown Daily Times join our fast-growing publishing group. The communities they serve are exactly the types of communities that we look for as we build our company.”
With 30 daily newspapers, more than 100 non-daily newspapers and other enterprises operating in 20 states, including Wisconsin, Maryland and the District of Columbia, Adams Publishing Group describes itself as “first and foremost a family-owned community newspaper company, which is driven to provide high quality products and services that make a positive difference in the lives of its constituents, which are, in prioritized order: its readers, customers/advertisers, communities, associates (employees) and its shareholders.”
Other Adams family enterprises include outdoor advertising (billboards), radio, wine, Camping World/Good Sam (recreational vehicles) and significant philanthropic endeavors.
Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a media merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented the Clifford family and the Knox family in the respective sales. Terms of the transactions were not disclosed.