Fowler Tribune parent company reach deal on sale of The Pueblo Chieftain

The Star-Journal Publishing Corp. of Pueblo, Colo., announced Tuesday that it has reached an agreement to sell The Pueblo Chieftain newspaper to GateHouse Media, one of the largest publishers of locally based media in the United States.

Both parties anticipate the sale to be concluded within about 30 days.

GateHouse publishes more than 560 community papers, including 124 daily newspapers, along with over 485 affiliated websites, which reach more than 22 million people each week. GateHouse publications can be found in 38 states and 565 markets.

The Pueblo Chieftain will join Colorado GateHouse properties in La Junta, Fowler, and Las Animas and an agricultural based publication with subscribers in seven surrounding states.

“We are excited about the possibilities a partnership with The Pueblo Chieftain can create in southern Colorado,” said Joe Zemba, Editor of the La Junta Tribune-Democrat, Bent County Democrat, Fowler Tribune, and Ag Journal. “We believe combining efforts with one of Colorado’s largest and most well-respected newspapers will strengthen the quality of news in all GateHouse owned publications in our area. The Chieftain has been a trusted news source for southern Colorado for over 150 years and the La Junta Tribune-Democrat and our sister newspapers have been the source of news for generations in the Arkansas Valley. Together, we represent some of Colorado's oldest newspapers. We're confident that our readers will continue to experience relevent and timely news for many years to come."

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Jane Rawlings, president of the Star-Journal Publishing Corp. and publisher of The Pueblo Chieftain, said she and her board of directors spent months studying prospective buyers to find the right owner for the 150-year-old Chieftain – the oldest daily newspaper in Colorado and an institution that has played a key role in supporting and leading the community throughout the years.

Rawlings took control of The Chieftain in October 2016. In March 2017, her father, Robert Hoag Rawlings, owner, publisher and editor of the newspaper for decades, passed away.

“It was my dad’s wish that The Chieftain would be sold upon his death, with proceeds to be placed in the Rawlings Foundation and that those funds would be used for the betterment of Pueblo and Southern Colorado,” Rawlings said.

Jason Taylor, president of Western U.S. Publishing Operations for GateHouse Media, was in Pueblo on Tuesday for the official announcement, meeting with Chieftain executives and other staff members. Other GateHouse executives in attendance were: Jay Fogarty, Vice President of Strategy and Involvement; Jesse Shockley, Regional Vice President GateHouse; Michelle Smith, Vice President of Strategy GateHouse West; and Joy Osborne, Regional Human Resources Director GateHouse.

Taylor said his company is proud to be the new owner of the historic and iconic Chieftain.

“We are honored that the Rawlings family has chosen us to continue the stewardship of this great community newspaper for years to come,” Taylor said.

Taylor said that GateHouse will be an extremely active partner with the Pueblo community. He cited the company’s dedication to enhancing local news content and providing more opportunities for advertisers to grow their businesses.

Taylor also serves as President of GateHouse Live, the company’s experiential marketing division. GateHouse Live produces expos and other events in cities throughout the country, and Taylor said the company is excited by the opportunity to produce numerous top-quality events in Pueblo and surrounding communities.

“GateHouse looks forward to leveraging our national resources to support the community that will enhance quality of life and help create a stronger community,” Taylor said.

Rawlings said it was important that the new owner of The Chieftain be a company committed to carrying on the legacy of owners and publishers Frank Hoag Sr., Frank Hoag Jr., her father and herself – to fight for water, for community projects, to put a spotlight on government and to celebrate the citizens, businesses and institutions that make Pueblo and Southern Colorado unique.

“My committee and I were excited to meet with GateHouse executives, who demonstrated their clear commitment to producing an outstanding local news report and to leave the opinion side of the newspaper – editorials, endorsements, etc. – under local control,” Rawlings said.

In a statement on its website, Gatehouse Media says its “mission is to deliver high quality and trusted journalism, products and services that enrich the communities we serve — our readers, commercial partners, employees and investors.”

Taylor echoed those statements in visiting with the staff.

GateHouse also offers an aggressive and extremely successful program for its advertisers.

“Our UpCurve division, which provides marketing, digital solutions and cloud services to small and mid-sized businesses, continues to grow,” the company states on its website. “UpCurve’s businesses leverage GateHouse Media’s core strengths. Currently, those businesses include ThriveHive, GateHouse Auto and BestRide.com, W-Systems and ViWO.”

“While we have experienced significant growth over the past four years, we continually strive to make ourselves not just a bigger company, but a stronger one,” the company’s statement says.