Published in Breaking News

Hearst buys West Michigan newspaper chain

BY MiBiz Staff Tuesday, January 31, 2017 12:54pm

BIG RAPIDS — The Pioneer Group, a Big Rapids-based publisher of newspapers and an operator of a digital marketing services business, has sold after four generations of family ownership.

Owners Jack and John Batdorff sold the company to Hearst, the New York-based publishing giant, according to a statement last week.

The Pioneer Group publishes two daily newspapers in West Michigan, The Pioneer in Big Rapids and the Manistee News Advocate. The company also includes three weekly titles: Lake County Star, based in Baldwin; Herald-Review in Osceola County; and The Benzie County Record Patriot. The company also publishes four Shopper publications.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

John Norton, the publisher of The Pioneer, will continue on with the new owners.

“We have every confidence that Hearst will be good stewards of the community, and will be a progressive community partner, a goal we’ve tried to fulfill over the years,” Jack Batdorff said in a statement announcing the deal. “They have a reputation for giving back and for taking care of their people, which has always been important to our family.”

John Batdorff praised Hearst’s resources and media expertise, which will “take the products and the company to a whole new level.”

Through the deal, Hearst Newspapers expands its holdings in Michigan, which include the Huron Daily Tribune and Midland Daily News.

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