Farewell, Family Ownership

after 136 years, Leader-Telegram sold to newspaper chain

Tom Giffey

The Leader-Telegram – which was one of the few remaining family-owned daily newspapers in the United States – has been sold to a Minnesota-based chain. The newspaper’s parent, the Eau Claire Press Co., announced the sale to Adams Publishing Group on May 31.

The Eau Claire-based Leader-Telegram has been owned and operated by members of the Graaskamp and Atkinson families since shortly after it was founded in 1881. According to a report publishing in the Leader-Telegram, the sale included all Eau Claire Press Co. assets, including The Country Today (a rural-focused weekly paper) and Leader Printing (a commercial printing business). Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

“After 130 years of family ownership, selling the Eau Claire Press Co. was not an easy decision for the Graaskamp and Atkinson families,” President and CEO Pieter Graaskamp, said, according to the L-T. “However, at a board strategic planning session, we discussed the long-term viability of an independently owned family media company. We came to the difficult decision nearly a year ago that selling was the best option for our employees and the communities we serve.”

According to Adams Publishing Group’s website, the company owns “63 community newspapers, their 18 advertising shoppers, 20 specialty publications and 81 associated websites.” In addition to numerous newspapers across Minnesota and Wisconsin – including those in Rice Lake, Ashland, and Spooner – Adams owns publications in Idaho, Wyoming, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

According to the L-T, Adams Publishing Group is part of Adams Office, which also owns a variety of other businesses, including “Adams Outdoor, Fairway Outdoor, Adams Radio Group, Good Sam, Camping World, and wineries and vineyards in the U.S. and Europe.”

For readers and employees, things should stay the same – at least for the time being: The new owner will offer jobs to all Eau Claire Press Co. employees, including members of the Graaskamp family.

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