The Frederick News-Post, one of just a few remaining family-owned daily newspapers, is being sold but will remain family run, its management announced.
The newspaper, which is published by Great Southern Printing and Manufacturing Co., is being purchased by Randall Family LLC. That group is headed by George Randall, who is the Frederick News-Post's vice president and nephew of editor and publisher George B. Delaplaine Jr. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
Delaplaine, 73, who also is president and chief executive officer, will retire from the newspaper that he has headed since 1964. He said he is "examining other options" but declined to specify what they might entail.
The Randalls became part owners of Great Southern Printing through marriage. Randall, 49, could not be reached yesterday for comment on his plans for the newspaper.
But at a meeting of senior staff Thursday, Randall said he "did not foresee any drastic changes," according to Jake Tamse, company spokesman.
Delaplaine, who was named master entrepreneur last year in Maryland's 1999 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards competition, said the decision to sell the newspaper was made by family members and shareholders. Financial details of the sale were not disclosed.
The combined circulation of the morning News and afternoon Post is slightly more than 40,000, Delaplaine said. The papers come out six days a week. GS Communications, the cable and Internet subsidiary sold last month to Adelphia Communications Corp. of Coudersport, Pa., has about 118,000 customers in four states: Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
The GS Communications and Frederick News-Post deals are expected to be completed around the end of the year, Delaplaine said.
Since 1949, Delaplaine has worked full time at the company that his grandfather founded in 1883. Before that, he spent eight summers at the newspaper. In 1964, Delaplaine became general manager of the company. Three years later, he launched GS Communications.
More recently, Delaplaine started GS Net, an Internet business that offers an online Frederick Marketplace for area merchants. The Frederick News-Post sale will include the sale of GS Net and the Job Shop, a commercial printing outlet, which are divisions within the company.
"I've gone through an awful lot of the [industry's] changes," Delaplaine said yesterday. "We were still using moveable type to some degree when I first started."
It was unclear what, if any, changes might occur under the new leadership. But Delaplaine said he didn't expect a sweeping reorganization.
"We pride ourselves on putting out quality products and giving quality service," he said. "We've never missed a regularly scheduled paper since we started in 1883."
Community response to the announced sale has been positive, according to Tamse.
"Local residents are happy that we're not being gobbled up by a mega media giant," he said.