Sale completed: Destin Log goes GateHouse

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
GateHouse Media CEO Kirk Davis addresses employees of The Daytona Beach News-Journal after the sale of the newspaper and other Halifax Media properties is finalized, Friday, Jan. 9, 2015.

New Media Investment Group Inc. completed its purchase Friday of Halifax Media Group, which owned The Destin Log and 35 other newspapers across the country.

Kirk Davis, CEO of GateHouse Media LLC, visited Halifax’s flagship newspaper, The News-Journal in Daytona Beach, minutes after the $280 million transaction closed and spoke with employees.

With the purchase, GateHouse Media, a subsidiary of publicly traded New Media, will operate newspapers in 27 states, reaching about 14 million people monthly.

The Destin Log is one of eight weeklies and two daily newspapers in Northwest Florida to join the Gatehouse portfolio.

“We view the transaction as transformational for us,” he said. "These are wonderful properties that will vastly expand our audience and provide us with an opportunity to launch a full suite of digital marketing opportunities throughout the entire Southeast.”

New Media is one of the largest publishers of locally-based print and online media in the United States with 450 community publications and more than 370 related websites.

New Media has been actively acquiring newspapers, having spent about $430 million on local media assets in little over one year, including the Halifax deal. In 2013, it added the Dow Jones Local Media Group of eight dailies and 15 weeklies to its lineup and acquired the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal this past year.

Halifax Media Group CEO Michael Redding and Ron Mayo, chief financial officer, will be leaving with the sale, and all other employees will be receiving offers of employment with GateHouse, Davis said.

Halifax Media Group acquired the News-Journal in 2010.

Shortly after the initial sale, Halifax Media acquired The New York Times Regional Media Group, a network of about 15 newspapers and websites primarily in the Southeast. Within a year, Halifax Media bought an additional 19 newspapers from Freedom Communications, including the Destin Log and its sister publications.

The Destin Log has been the area’s news source since 1974, covering the sugar white beaches of Destin.

GateHouse Media plans to continue that tradition, Davis said.

“We deeply value the local judgment and tradition that our newspapers have had and how they have emphasized their role in the community,” he said. “We provide a lot of local autonomy to publishers and editors to exercise their best judgment.”