Stanwood Camano News and Stanwood Telegraphics owner Dave Pinkham sold the newspaper and phonebook he has owned since 1985 to Skagit Publishing, part of Pioneer News Group of Seattle last week.
“I have a lot of mixed feelings,” said Pinkham. “I am sad but at the same time, very happy.” Negotiations wrapped up Dec. 29. The terms of the sale were undisclosed.
Pioneer is family owned and shares Pinkham’s business philosophy. Pinkham, is the former editor/publisher of the News.
Chief Executive Officer Mike Gugliotto of Pioneer News Group said the acquisition is advantageous to both the community and Pioneer.
“It’s a perfect fit,” said Gugliotto. “It has the same challenges and opportunities as other papers this size in our group. It’s a good fit for Pioneer.”
Pioneer News Group prides itself on being civically active in the communities it serves, counted on as a respected public resource, valued for its high-quality print products while offering them at affordable prices.
The Stanwood Camano News office will remain at the corner of Main Street (271st St. NW) and 90th Ave. NW where it has been since Pinkham purchased the newspaper from the late Cliff Danielson in 1985.
“The basics aren’t going to change,” said Gugliotto. “Good business decisions will help us best utilize evolving technology without losing our focus on people, who continue to make the biggest difference in our business. A bigger company has the resources and opportunity to do that.”
Skagit Publishing entered a management contract with Pinkham on June 1, 2009 with the stipulation it have first option to purchase both publications after five years. Skagit Publishing and Pioneer News Group are both owned by Susan (Scripps) and Leighton Wood, of Mount Vernon, and the Wood family. Marnie (Wood) Roozen is chairman of the board.
The Scripps family has a long history in newspapers, beginning with E.W. Scripps who started the Detroit Evening News in 1873. After purchasing the Cleveland Penny five years later, the Penny Press was soon established and led to a chain of newspapers that included the St. Louis Chronicle and Cincinnati Post.
E.W. Scripps felt that for a country to have a strong democracy, it must have access to an affordable source of news. Thus, a newspaper in the late 19th and early 20th centuries cost a mere penny.
Future acquisitions merged three newspaper associations to form the United Press Association in 1907, which became United Press International. The company E.W. Scripps had begun some 30 years earlier had grown to 50 daily and weekly papers, growth that hastened after World War II.
In 1974, the Scripps family divided the company and began Pioneer Newspapers, which recently became Pioneer News Group and with the latest acquisition of the Stanwood Camano News, consists of 24 daily and weekly newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana. The company changed its name to the Pioneer News Group a few years ago to reflect expanding publishing platforms in addition to print.
The relationship with Skagit Publishing will continue, with Heather Hernandez as publisher. Kelly Ruhoff will carry on as editor and general manager of Stanwood Camano News.
Hernandez has been with Skagit Publishing for three and a half years and lives in Anacortes with her family. Ruhoff has been with the News for 18 years and lives in Warm Beach with her husband.
Pinkham said he has many fond memories of his 30 years at the helm of the Stanwood Camano News.
“I couldn’t have landed at a better place,” he said. “I was lucky Cliff (Danielson) trusted me — it worked out really well.”
Gugliotto and Hernandez agreed the transition to Pioneer is an exciting one.
“It’s positive all around,” said Gugliotto.