GREENVILLE — After more than six decades under the ownership of the Stafford family, the Greenville Daily News is selling to new owners.
Lapeer-based View Newspaper Group, an alias of Jams Media LLC, plans to acquire the daily newspaper and commercial printing operations and associated real estate from Stafford Media Inc. in a deal that’s expected to close on June 3.
The Greenville Daily News will join a growing print-focused publishing company that will include 19 community-focused newspapers concentrated in the Thumb and Southeast Michigan.
As well, Stafford’s commercial printing operations — long known as News Web, with a book of business of more than 160 customers, including MiBiz and Revue West Michigan — will complement the buyers’ Davisburg-based Michigan Web Press operations, according to Wes Smith, group publisher of View Newspaper Group.
Smith said the two companies had long competed against each other for commercial printing clients.
“We knew they were a successful printing and publishing family. When we became aware that they were putting their properties for sale, we were very much interested, and I think they were very much interested in us,” Smith said. “Let’s just say it wasn’t by accident that the broker on this deal reached out to us.”
In addition to the Greenville Daily News, a six-day newspaper with a circulation of 4,500, Stafford Media also includes The Gazette, a free weekly newspaper for easetrn Montcalm County.
View Newspaper Group’s titles cover Lapeer, Sanilac, Huron, Saginaw, Shiawassee, Genesee, Oakland and Livingston counties and include The County Press, Tri-County Times, Sanilac County News and Brown City Banner.
The Greenville Daily News will be the first daily print title in the company’s portfolio.
While neither Smith nor View Newspaper Group President and founder Rick Burrough have daily newspaper experience, they solved that challenge by retaining Daily News Publisher Julie Stafford as regional publisher for the company, Smith said.
“We very much wanted her to stay on,” he said. “We think she’s doing a terrific job with that paper in that market.”
Julie Stafford said the deal gives the combined Michigan-based and Michigan-owned companies the scale needed to better compete in the commercial printing market, as well as provides the news organization a stable foundation for the future.
As she and her brother sought a buyer for the company, they found mutual interest with View Newspaper Group, Julie Stafford told MiBiz, noting the companies worked for several months to close the deal.
“It gives us depth and it gives us a new family, a new team to draw on and to call on when we have questions,” she said. “It’s not just us in our own little world; it’s us plus View Newspapers and Michigan Web. They bring a lot of expertise to us, and on the newspaper side, I feel like we bring that to them as well.”
Julie Stafford’s brother, Rob Stafford, who serves as president of the company, will be leaving to pursue other interests.
The sale of Stafford Media comes amid a wave of consolidation in the newspaper industry, including locally. Most recently, Big Rapids-based Pioneer Media Group, the former publisher of The Pioneer in Big Rapids and the Manistee News Advocate, plus other weeklies, sold to New York City-based publishing giant Hearst in 2017, as MiBiz previously reported.