Scripps, Freedom trade Florida newspapers

Tue, February 15, 2000 by Tim Stautberg

CINCINNATI - The E. W. Scripps Company has reached an agreement to trade The Destin (Fla.) Log and its sister newspaper, The Walton Log, plus an undisclosed amount of cash, for The Tribune, a Fort Pierce, Fla., daily newspaper owned by Freedom Communications Inc.The Tribune, with circulation of 26,000 daily and 28,000 on Sundays, will become the third Scripps-owned daily newspaper along Florida’s Treasure Coast, a 70-mile area of Atlantic coastline that includes Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties. Scripps also owns The Stuart News and the Vero Beach Press Journal. "Acquiring The Tribune is consistent with the Scripps strategy to cluster our newspapers in growing, mid-sized markets," said William R. Burleigh, chairman and chief executive officer for Scripps. "It also gives us an excellent opportunity to strengthen news coverage and increase options for advertisers in the three-county area of the Treasure Coast that we serve.”The exchange is pending, subject to due diligence by Scripps and Freedom Communications and negotiation of a definitive agreement.The Destin Log, which is published twice weekly, was founded in 1974 and has been operated by Scripps since 1984. Beginning in 1992, it began publishing The Walton Log, serving residents in South Walton County. Destin and Walton County are located in Northwest Florida. Freedom Communications currently publishes two daily newspapers - the Northwest Florida Daily News in Fort Walton Beach and The News Herald in Panama City, Fla. - along with The Walton Sun, a weekly based in Santa Rosa Beach on a 40-mile stretch of coastline in Florida’s Panhandle known as the Emerald Coast.“The acquisition of these newspapers further strengthens our opportunities to serve readers and advertisers in the growing Emerald Coast,” said Sam Wolgemuth, president and chief executive officer for Freedom Communications. “It means better connections to more communities with stronger products for readers and more choices and a greater reach for advertisers.”The Tribune was created in 1920, the result of a merger of two weekly newspapers, but traces its beginnings to 1903, the year the older of the two weeklies was first published. The Tribune began publishing daily in 1926 and has been operated by Freedom Communications since 1969."Our Fort Pierce associates have done an extraordinary job in a highly competitive market," Freedom’s Wolgemuth said. "The Tribune’s circulation growth this past year is evidence of that. We are very grateful for their contributions to Freedom for so many years." Headquartered in Irvine, Calif., Freedom Communications publishes 27 daily newspapers and 35 weekly publications. The newspapers' combined daily circulation is slightly more than one million subscribers. Following completion of the transaction for The Tribune, Scripps will publish 20 daily newspapers across the nation. Scripps also operates nine network-affiliated television stations; three TV networks, Home & Garden Television, the Food Network and Do It Yourself; and a TV programmer, Scripps Productions. The company also operates United Media, a worldwide syndicator and licensor of news features and comics; the Scripps Howard News Service; and publishes independent Yellow Pages directories. Scripps operates 31 revenue-producing Web sites, including hgtv.com, foodtv.com, diynet.com and comics.com.