Hearst, which already owns the Houston Chronicle, has struck a deal that may turn out to be a model of how to profitably expand and consolidate newspaper operations within a major metropolitan area. Acquired for an undisclosed sum from 103 Star Communications are 23 community weeklies and one daily, the Conroe Courier.
In a note to Courier readers, editor Andrew DuBois and Houston Chronicle editor Nancy Barnes outline the immediate impact of the ownership change:
The Courier will be published as an edition of the Houston Chronicle, which will allow the Courier to draw on a deeper well of resources, while keeping its focus squarely on Conroe and the surrounding communities…
We have merged some of the Houston Chronicle reporting staff that has been covering Montgomery County with The Courier staff, but the editorial leadership will remain the same to ensure that we continue to deliver on The Courier’s unique local mission. We remain dedicated to ensuring timely delivery of The Courier.
With regards to the 23 weeklies, which include the Dayton News, the Magnolia Potpourri and the Sugar Land Sun, Barnes sees great synergy there as well:
“We’ve long recognized how important our burgeoning suburbs are to our readers,” Barnes said. “Many of these communities – Katy, The Woodlands, Pearland – would be home to their own daily newspapers in another era. With this acquisition, we hope to leverage the strong content the Houston Community Newspapers publications are already delivering to our diverse suburbs to provide all of our readers with a richer community report.”
The acquired properties, collectively known as the Houston Community Newspapers & Media Group, can be found onine via the centralized website yourhoustonnews.com. Although there is no explicit mention today of plans to bundle the 23 weeklies with Chronicle on the print side, that would seem to make sense. The Courier, interestingly enough, was founded in 1896 as a weekly.
In Texas, Hearst also owns and operates the San Antonio Express-News, the Beaumont Enterprise, the Plainview Daily Herald, the Midland Reporter-Telegram and the Laredo Morning Times.
Photo via: chron.com