The Indiana Gazette is changing hands from one family-owned company to another.
Mike Donnelly, former publisher of the Gazette, announced Monday that the newspaper has been sold to Sample News Group, based in Corry, Erie County. Terms of the transaction, which were effective last Friday, were not disclosed.
Sample News Group, whose CEO is George “Scoop” Sample, owns more than 75 publications in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire.
“Our family newspaper has had the privilege of being invited into the homes throughout Indiana County for the last 130 years,” said Donnelly. “Over those years, we kept our readers informed of what was going on in our communities. Through the great efforts of our employees we had over these many years, we never missed a day of delivering the news and advertising that our readers enjoyed. I am going to miss being a part of that process.
“I am really proud about how The Indiana Gazette and our employees gave back to the communities that we served during our time as publishers, through programs such as Angel Wings, Care & Share Day, It’s a Wonderful Life Light Up Night, St. Patty’s Day Open, the annual cooking show to benefit ICCAP,” he said. “Also, we made it a point to promote the fundraising and good works of the United Way, the services clubs and fundraisers for people who were sick or dealing with other tragedies. We were there for those in need.
“However, we have reached a time when being a single-point, family-owned, independent newspaper was not a viable option moving forward.”
The sale of the Gazette does not affect operations at Gazette Printers on Indian Springs Road in White Township, which will continue under the ownership of Indiana Printing & Publishing.
“George ‘Scoop’ Sample comes from another Pennsylvania newspaper family. I have known Scoop for years,” Donnelly said, “and he understands the importance of what good the newspaper can do for the communities that they serve. The Indiana Gazette will be in good hands.
“I am proud to say that the Gazette has been named Newspaper of the Year three times in the last several years, which is a testament to our employees’ commitment to bring quality journalism to our readers.”
Sample said he is excited about acquiring the Gazette.
“Sample News Group is thrilled and honored to be selected to carry on the storied Donnelly legacy at The Indiana Gazette,” said Sample.
“We have known the Donnellys since the early 1970s and, while often competitors, Joe and Lucy, and now Mike, never hesitated to work together.
“While the world and the newspaper industry face a challenging period, we are confident that Indiana County is a great area and The Indiana Gazette is a great newspaper.”
Sample News Group newspapers in Pennsylvania include The Bedford Gazette, Bedford; The Daily News, Huntingdon; The Gettysburg Times, Gettysburg; The News Item, Shamokin; The Review, Towanda; The Latrobe Bulletin, Latrobe; Morning Times, Sayre; Corry Journal, Corry; Standard Journal, Milton; The Daily Herald, Tyrone; and The Leader Times, Kittanning.
The roots of the Gazette can be traced to 1890, but it was a century ago, in 1911, that R. Nelson Ray, a successful businessman and former teacher in Indiana County and the Midwest, purchased the Indiana Printing & Publishing Company after his eldest son, R. Hastie Ray, asked his father to buy a newspaper for him.
After R. Nelson Ray acquired IP&P, his younger twin sons, N. DeWitt Ray and B. Dwight Ray, joined older brother R. Hastie Ray as the newspaper’s equal owners and publishers. R. Nelson Ray was publisher and president of the company when he died in 1942. On Dec. 17, 1986, Indiana Printing & Publishing Company, including The Indiana Gazette and its commercial printing division, Gazette Printers, were acquired entirely by Lucy Donnelly, R. Hastie Ray’s daughter, and her husband, Joseph Donnelly. Sally Ray Naylon, sister to Lucy Donnelly, and Joan Ray Reece, cousin to Lucy Donnelly, no longer served as corporate officers of the company.
Lucy Donnelly had served as CEO of IP&P since 1976 when her father was named board chairman. Under the new ownership, Lucy Donnelly became president and co-publisher; Joseph Donnelly became vice president/co-publisher/editor; their son, Michael Donnelly, became secretary/treasurer and advertising and marketing director; their daughter, Hastie Kinter, became assistant treasurer and continued to serve as the Newspaper in Education coordinator; and their younger daughter, Stacie Donnelly, (now Stacie Gottfredson) became assistant secretary.
In 1987, Michael Donnelly was named general manager of Indiana Printing & Publishing. He became president and publisher following the deaths of Lucy Donnelly in 1993 and Joseph Donnelly in 2000.