By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Kirk Davis re-emerges

GateHouse Media’s acquisition of Community Newspaper Co. (CNC) and Enterprise NewsMedia is now complete, according to a statement by GateHouse CEO Mike Reed.

GateHouse — formerly Liberty Group Publishing — is paying a reported $400 million to buy the 100-newspaper-plus CNC chain from Boston Herald publisher Pat Purcell, as well as the Enterprise NewsMedia’s holdings: the Patriot Ledger of Quincy, the Enterprise of Brockton and 23 affiliated weekly papers on the South Shore and in Old Colony.

As Media Nation predicted, Kirk Davis is back big-time, as he has been named to run the business operations of the combined groups. Davis was the top business executive of CNC when it was owned by Fidelity, but left not long after Purcell bought the company in 2001. Until today, he’s held a lower-profile position as chief executive of Enterprise NewsMedia.

Now Davis instantly becomes one of the most powerful newspaper executives in Eastern Massachusetts, rivaling Richard Gilman, who runs the Boston Globe and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for the New York Times Co., as well as the Times Co.’s minority stake in Metro Boston and the New England Sports Network.

The complete text of Reed’s statement follows:

I’m pleased to announce that we have successfully closed on our acquisition of CP Media Inc. (Community Newspaper Company) and Enterprise NewsMedia LLC. Thank you for your patience as we worked diligently and expeditiously to complete the purchase. On behalf of the management and employees of GateHouse Media, we welcome you and look forward to a successful transition and promising future.

Effective today, I am also pleased to announce that Kirk Davis, CEO, President and Publisher of Enterprise NewsMedia LLC, will assume the additional responsibilities of CEO, President and Publisher of Community Newspaper Company (CNC). Kirk will report directly to me. I’m also pleased to announce that Greg Rush, Chief Operating Officer and Associate Publisher of CNC will continue in his current role, reporting to Kirk.

Kirk has been in the community newspaper industry for over 20 years. He has served in his current role since 2004. Prior to joining Enterprise NewsMedia, Kirk served as a senior executive at Community Newspaper Company from 1995 through 2001. He held the position of president and publisher from 1998 through 2001. He understands the local newspaper business extremely well, the Boston market extremely well and recognizes our potential to grow and better serve our readers and advertisers.

Throughout this process, I’ve been impressed with the management team members I’ve met from Enterprise NewsMedia and CNC. In addition, I’ve been very impressed with the overall companies that all of you have been instrumental in assembling. Both companies have great newspapers and great businesses. I’m confident that, under Kirk’s leadership, we can build on our proud tradition of being the region’s premier provider of local news and information.

I look forward to supporting your efforts however I can be of help. Again, we feel privileged to have acquired both companies and look forward to getting started.

I understand Kirk is planning a series of employee meetings in July. I’ll look forward to attending some of those meetings. It’s our intent to keep you apprised of our progress.
Thank you!

GateHouse Media is in the process of moving from Illinois to Rochester, N.Y. And, by the way, the aforementioned Greg Rush is Purcell’s son-in-law. Purcell needs to maintain the content-sharing arrangement he has with CNC. Rush’s presence should help ensure that.

And keep an eye on what’s next. Reed is the former chief executive of the Alabama-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which last year purchased the Eagle-Tribune of Lawrence, the Daily News of Newburyport, the Salem News and the Gloucester Daily Times.

As I said in my earlier item, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see those four papers added to GateHouse’s holdings in, say, the next year or two. That would create an unprecedented newspaper behemoth in Eastern Massachusetts, with the Globe, the Herald and the Telegram & Gazette functioning as the group’s only significant rivals.

Is this kind of giantism good for community journalism? Of course not. Davis has always struck me as a well-intentioned guy who cares about the news to the extent that the cost of gathering it doesn’t exceed the miserly budgets set by ownership. But where is the localism in all this?

Yes, local coverage will be the bread and butter of the CNC/Enterprise group. Wicked Local, an experiment over which Davis has presided, is promising. But for those of us who believe that local ownership matters, today’s announcement is just another example of what’s gone wrong in the newspaper business.

Ownership concerns aside, though, I’m actually optimistic that the new owners have deep enough pockets to improve their new papers. Let’s hope.


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2 Comments

  1. Gwendalenia

    Hi:I read this today and was wondering if you know if they are hiring at all? I’m a freelance journalist and live in Rochester. I’ve done a Google search on the company name and so far have just come up with articles about thier move.If you know anything more about this I would appreciate any help. Thanks,Gwen

  2. Anonymous

    Hi I work for gatehouse media its not a bad company to work for they had openings for reporters and writers in southern il and mo. check web sites. I work in Olney Il.

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