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Norwalk Reflector and Sandusky Register sold to Ogden Newspapers

By Tom Jackson • Updated Jul 18, 2019 at 10:37 AM

A West Virginia-based family newspaper company will buy the Norwalk Reflector and Sandusky Register, the two newspapers announced Wednesday.

Ogden Newspapers will purchase the two Ohio newspapers from Sandusky Newspapers Inc., a family newspaper company that has owned the Register since 1869 and the Reflector since 1913.

The sale is expected to close in late July.

Ogden Newspapers CEO Robert Nutting, who came to Sandusky on Wednesday and met with the staff from both newspapers, said his family is proud to be selected as the newspapers’ next publisher, and looks forward to continuing a legacy of community-based journalism that the Rau and White family has established in Norwalk and Sandusky.

“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to inherit the legacy of their impressive work, and we look forward to publishing great community-focused newspapers and running vital media platforms to serve a region as important as Sandusky and Norwalk, home to destinations such as Lake Erie and Cedar Point,” Nutting said.

“We’re fortunate to be able to turn the papers over to another family company, owned by the Nutting family, who have demonstrated a record of editorial independence and local emphasis, and have a long-standing commitment to quality community journalism,” said David Rau, CEO of Sandusky Newspapers. “We believe they will be good stewards in the rapidly changing media world.”

“The decision to sell was a very difficult one. Ultimately we decided that given the tremendous changes in the media business over the past generation, the Register and Reflector, and both communities, would be better served were they owned by a larger company with more scale.

“I thank all our employees, readers and advertisers over the six generations my family has owned these newspapers,” Rau added.

Rau, 69, said he’s proud that he allowed local newspapers to have local control.

“I have never picked up the phone and told the publisher or the managing editor what he had to put on the editorial page,” Rau said.

The purchase expands the Ogden Newspapers’ role in providing community news in northern Ohio, as the company also publishes the Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin. Nutting said the company will focus on building a strong multimedia team to focus on community news and regional advertising opportunities in Northern Ohio.

“The addition of the Sandusky Register and the Norwalk Reflector to our family of newspapers will provide opportunities to our readers — both in print and online — to experience more comprehensive community news coverage and in-depth reporting on regional issues,” Nutting said. “Also, with publications in Sandusky, Norwalk and Tiffin, we’re particularly excited about the potential to create greater marketing opportunities for local business seeking to expand their footprint in the region.”

Ogden also owns papers in seven other Ohio cities: Warren, Martin’s Ferry, Steubenville, Lisbon, Salem, Marietta and East Liverpool. 

As the news business changes, Ogden has continued to buy newspapers.

“We continue to believe very strongly in the power of printed newspapers,” Nutting said. “We believe in their value to readers, advertisers and especially to providing guidance and leadership to their communities. The Sandusky Register and the Norwalk Reflector, along with their websites, sanduskyregister.com and norwalkreflector.com, are vital and credible connections to Erie and Huron counties that deliver important value to readers and advertisers. That’s more important now than ever before.”

Ogden Newspapers, based in Wheeling, W.Va., is owned by the Nutting family, which has been in the publishing and media business since 1890. Robert Nutting also is chairman of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. The diversified media company publishes 47 daily newspapers and a number of weekly newspapers in 16 states — Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia. The company also is the leading publisher of magazines that serve the sustainable living, rural lifestyle and farm memorabilia communities.

Sandusky Newspapers Inc. has been in the publishing and media business since 1869. It sold its newspaper in Ogden, Utah to a subsidiary of the Nutting family a year ago, and sold its papers in Grand Haven, Michigan and Lebanon, Tennessee in May of this year. Rau said Sandusky Newspapers Inc. will retain its newspapers in northeast Tennessee, where it owns the Kingsport Times-News, the Johnson City Press, three weekly newspapers and various digital businesses.

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