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Greenfield Recorder owner buys Athol Daily News



For The Recorder
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

ATHOL — Newspapers of New England Inc., which owns the Greenfield Recorder, has bought the Athol Daily News.

Richard Chase Jr., the publisher of the Athol Daily News and part of the family who owned the paper, announced the purchase to staff on Tuesday. The Chase family had owned the paper since 1941, publishing news from the North Quabbin region Monday through Saturday.

Newspapers of New England, or NNE, will begin publishing the paper without interruption on Jan 2.

“It has been my honor to have been publisher of the Athol Daily News for the past 29 years,” Chase said in a statement. “And I look forward to the progress I believe Newspapers of New England will bring to the publication as it navigates the digital age.”

Chase said his primary reason for selling the paper was because he wants to retire. He declined to say for how much he sold the paper.

The Athol Daily News has some overlap in coverage with the Recorder. Michael Rifanburg, publisher of NNE’s Massachusetts newspapers, said that just as there is some cooperation between the Recorder and Gazette, there likely will be similar cooperation with the Athol Daily News and the Recorder.

The Daily News, with a circulation of approximately 3,000, covers Athol and the surrounding towns of Erving, New Salem, Orange, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Warwick and Wendell.

Rifanburg said little would be altered under the ownership change.

“We will honor the strong tradition of community journalism built by the Chase family and hope that, with our experience in the region, we will be able to build on that tradition,” Rifanburg said in a statement. “Readers and advertisers will continue to receive their hometown paper as they always have.”

Rifanburg declined to say how much NNE paid for the Daily News, and said he could not comment on whether the purchase would result in any changes in the paper’s staffing.

“Newspapers of New England bought the newspaper and its assets, and will hire as many of the Athol Daily News employees as we can,” he said.

The assets include a printing press, though printing of the Athol Daily News will move to Northampton, where NNE owns a much larger press, Rifanburg said. The paper will initially remain an afternoon paper, though that might change later, he said.

NNE is in the process of evaluating its needs, he added, so he could not specify how many Daily News employees would be retained.

“I don’t know, that will be up to Newspapers of New England to decide,” Chase said when asked about possible job losses.

Rifanburg said NNE is always looking for papers that fit well into the company’s portfolio.

“Certainly, geographically they’re a good fit. Small communities are what we do well,” he said. “Many of our newspapers are in small communities.”

Chase said he believed continuity would be maintained under the new ownership.

“I had the most confidence that NNE would continue the newspaper in its present form,” he said when asked why he chose to sell to the company.

In addition to the Recorder, the Gazette and now the Athol Daily News, Newspapers of New England publishes the Amherst Bulletin and Valley Advocate, along with their respective websites. The family-owned company also publishes the Concord (N.H.) Monitor, the Valley News in West Lebanon, N.H., and the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript in Peterborough, N.H.