The Observer Publishing Co. (OPC) announced it has signed a letter of agreement to sell its assets to Ogden Newspapers according to Gary Greene and Randy Cope of Cribb, Greene & Cope.
OPC publishes the daily Observer-Reporter, the weekly Almanac and numerous monthly and special interest magazines. The company also runs a digital advertising agency, Reimagine Main Street, and produces a series of events. Ogden is the publisher of more than 40 daily newspapers, multiple weeklies and a magazine division with operations in 16 states. It is owned and operated by the Nutting family of Wheeling, W.Va. The transaction is expected to close by Sept. 30.
"As a family-owned media company with 116 years of history in Washington and Greene
counties, we wanted to make sure that our legacy of serving our community with high-quality local news and information would continue," said Tom Northrop, OPC president and publisher and a fourth-generation shareholder in the company. "It is increasingly difficult for an independent company to go it alone. We chose Ogden because we believe they're in the best position to continue our mission for generations to come. The Nutting family understands the role that a newspaper plays in a community, they share our commitment to local news and they're deeply invested in the region. We're proud that Ogden recognizes the talent in our employees and that they see value in what we've achieved over the years."
Ogden actively supports the agreement OPC made last year with Washington & Jefferson College to develop a small-business incubator in its former circulation building on Main Street. "We made continuing this joint venture a high priority as we explored a sale," said Northrop. "The Nuttings needed no convincing that this was a great idea for our town and a valuable partnership for the company. We know their business expertise will be invaluable as the project progresses."
"We are very pleased to have been chosen to be the successor publisher of the Observer-Reporter," said Perry Nardo, regional publisher of Ogden Newspapers. "We are thrilled to have the opportunity to continue the Northrop family's impressive work. We look forward to publishing a great community-focused, seven day a week newspaper, as well as the Almanac and the wide range of magazines and the vital digital media platform serving Washington and Greene counties."
"We believe very strongly in the power of printed newspapers. We believe in their value to readers, advertisers and communities. The role of credible media outlets like the Observer-Reporter is fundamentally important, now more than ever."
The Observer Publishing Co. was formed July 24, 1902, by John L. "Jack" Stewart and E.F. Acheson. Stewart's grandsons, John L.S. Northrop and William B. Northrop, owned and ran the company until their retirements in June 2002, when ownership was transferred to the fourth generation. Thomas Northrop, president and publisher, and Lucy Northrop Corwin, director of news, currently serve as officers of OPC; both will leave the company when the sale is completed.
The shareholder group consists of nine family members located throughout Western Pennsylvania and the United States with one additional local shareholder.
OPC and the Northrop family have a long tradition of involvement in the community, including service to Washington & Jefferson College and Waynesburg University; Washington Health System Board of Directors and Foundation; the Washington County Community Foundation and Community Foundation of Greene County; the United Way; and Rotary. There is also a long commitment to the newspaper industry through its alliance with the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association and other journalism and media organizations.
Cribb, Greene and Cope represented the Northrop Family and OPC in the sale.