GateHouse Media Purchases 150-Year-Old Pueblo Chieftain

The owner of The Pueblo Chieftain has agreed to sell the Southern Colorado newspaper.

The Star-Journal Publishing Corp. announced Tuesday that the sale to GateHouse Media is expected to conclude within about a month. Terms were not released.

GateHouse publishes more than 560 community newspapers, including 124 dailies, along with more than 485 affiliated websites. Its publications can be found in 38 states.

CEO Mike Reed of New Media Investment Group, which runs GateHouse, appeared on NPR's Morning Edition Tuesday to push back against critics who claim the company makes money by making drastic cuts to news operations, such as consolidating the editing of all papers in Austin, Texas, and sharing content across papers.

"We see an opportunity to acquire (small-town papers) at relatively inexpensive prices because nobody likes them and to reinvent the business model, moving it from advertising to services," Reed told Morning Edition.

Some journalists who work at GateHouse papers disagree. That includes employees at the Columbia, Missouri-based Daily Tribune, which was acquired by GateHouse in the fall of 2016 after 115 years of local ownership. Much of the staff was gone within the year.

"They see the newspaper not as journalism but as dollar signs," John Darkow, the Tribune's cartoonist for nearly 20 years, told Morning Edition.

Chieftain publisher Jane Rawlings says her father, Robert Hoag Rawlings, asked that the paper be sold upon his death. He died in March 2017 after serving as owner, publisher and editor of the newspaper for decades.

Jane Rawlings says the proceeds from the sale will be placed in a foundation aimed at serving Pueblo and southern Colorado.