Newport Daily News sold to Projo owner GateHouse

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Another Rhode Island newspaper has passed out of local ownership.

The Newport Daily News announced Thursday that it has been sold to GateHouse Media Inc., the fast-growing newspaper chain that has bought a swath of regional papers in recent years including The Providence Journal, the New Bedford Standard-Times and the Fall River Herald News.

It marks the end of an era in Rhode Island media. The Daily News’s parent company, the Edward A. Sherman Publishing Co., has owned the paper since its namesake purchased it in 1918 – almost exactly a century ago.

“Today is one of the saddest days of my life – a day I have always hoped would never come – when I must tell you all that the Sherman family has decided that we must sell the papers,” Albert K. “Buck” Sherman Jr., president of the Sherman company’s board of directors, said in an article on the newspaper’s website.

Financial terms of the deal, set to close Nov. 1, were not disclosed. The newspaper’s daily circulation was about 12,000 copies as of last year, according to its website.

Pittsford, New York-based GateHouse is controlled by New Media Investment Group, a company that describes itself in SEC filings as externally managed by an affiliate of Fortress Investment Group. Fortress was bought earlier this year by SoftBank Group, a Japanese bank, for $3.3 billion. GateHouse says it now owns 636 publications in 36 states, including 125 daily newspapers.

Janet Hasson, The Providence Journal’s publisher and GateHouse’s regional vice-president, said Bill Lucey will remain in place as the Newport paper’s publisher. The sale includes Sherman Publishing’s other outlets, as well, which include The Independent, Newport Life Magazine, South County Life Magazine and Mercury.

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook