A little bit of news that sort of fell through the cracks this week.
The Tallahassee Democrat will be acquired by media giant Gannett Inc. in a deal that involves three other newspapers and an undisclosed amount of cash, officials from both companies said Wednesday afternoon.
The deal, which stunned employees gathered in the newsroom, means the departure of key executives as the Democrat becomes part of the nation's largest newspaper chain.
"This is a great fit, ... and it works out very well for us," said Patrick Dorsey, who will become president and publisher after the deal closes next month. Dorsey is director/finance and group controller for Florida Today.
Democrat Publisher Mike Pate will take a consulting job with Knight Ridder and retire at the end of the year. Editor Mizell Stewart will leave the Democrat and stay with Knight Ridder. A successor to Stewart has not been named.
Tony Ridder, chief executive officer of Knight Ridder, will be in town today to talk to Democrat employees.
The sale is scheduled to be finalized Sept. 1, pending a federal anti-trust review, said Polk Laffoon, Knight Ridder vice president of corporate relations.
Mike Coleman, president and publisher of Gannett's southern region, said the Democrat's position as a capital newspaper made it an attractive acquisition.
"Newspapering in a state capital is not only fun but is enjoyable and exciting," he said. "They tend to be solid economic environments."
As for what readers and advertisers can expect, he said: "We'll work hard to make the transition as seamless as possible."
Paula Lynn Ellis, vice president of operations for Knight Ridder who was in town for the announcement, said the Democrat was central in securing the multifaceted deal that gives Knight Ridder additional western newspapers.
"It's a well-run newspaper that was attractive to our partners," she said. "It was critical to making the transaction possible."
Gannett also owns the Pensacola News-Journal and two television stations in Jacksonville, giving the chain critical geographical positions across North Florida, Dorsey said. The chain also owns Florida Today in Melbourne and The News-Press in Fort Myers.
Lee Ann Schlatter, director of corporate communications for Knight Ridder, said the San Jose, Calif.,-based chain traded the Democrat and paid cash for two Seattle-area Gannett newspapers in Washington and one in Idaho.
The papers are The Idaho Statesman in Boise, Idaho, The Olympian in Olympia, Wash., and The Bellingham Herald in Bellingham, Wash.
Knight Ridder also announced Wednesday it had sold The Detroit Free Press to Gannett for an undisclosed amount of cash.
I don't know how these ownership changes will affect the papers. Except it could change the Democrat's website. Almost all Knight Ridder papers use the same template for the layout. If you don't believ me, Click Wichita Eagle, Miami Herald, Tallahassee Democrat in my newspaper links section.