Tuesday February 9, 2010

Scotsman Confident Following Acquisition of Fulton Newspapers

Associate publisher says future is bright for long-time publications
By Lou Sorendo

    No immediate changes are planned for three Fulton-based publications following their acquisition by the Scotsman Press.

    Scotsman Press, one of central New York’s largest newspaper and shopper publishers as well as commercial printers, acquired The Valley News as well as its companion publications, The Valley News Advertiser and The Fulton Patriot.

    Scotsman assumed operations of the Fulton publications last Thursday.

    The Fulton newspapers had been owned and operated for many years by Vincent Caravan and his son Ronald. The papers had been in the Caravan family for 38 years prior to the transaction.

    Since 1947, The Valley News has covered local news and events throughout the Oswego County area.

    Tom Cuskey, associate publisher for Scotsman Press, said no immediate changes are planned at the three publications.

    “We’ve had a long-term relationship with The Valley News,” Cuskey said. “Scotsman Press has been its printer since 1967.”

    “We know the Caravans very well and they know us,” he said. “We’ve always had a wonderful relationship with them and regard The Valley News as being among the finest community newspapers in New York state.”

    “When the opportunity came up as the family was looking to get out of the business for various reasons, they came to us and we were very pleased,” Cuskey said. “With that said, the last thing we want to do is come in and change something that has been a winning combination of papers for this community for many years.”

    Status quo

    Cuskey said The Valley News will continue to be published twice weekly, on Wednesday and Saturday.

    “For the foreseeable future, we aren’t planning any changes” insofar as publication dates are concerned, Cuskey noted.

    “That’s not to say that three years from now, the economy and market dictate that a change needs to be made.”

    “We just really need to come in and get used to the operation and how it works,” he said. “It works fine from what we can see, so there are no immediate changes.”

    The three publications employ 26 workers.

    Cuskey said it is too early to tell whether that number will stay the same. “Right now, everybody is doing what they have been doing and I’m trying to fill in where Vince and Ron have been. Some staff people from Syracuse are also helping out,” he noted.

    Cuskey declined to disclose what the transaction was worth.

    Cuskey said the key to continued success for the newspapers are their focus on local editorial content.

    “Fulton is not unlike so many other communities where the larger newspapers have had to focus on national and international news, and a lot of local community news has been forgotten,” he said. “That has not been the case in Fulton, so I think continued stress on that will be important.”

    The three publications have a combined circulation of 15,158, Cuskey said.

    The Valley News circulates approximately 8,100 copies.

    Optimistic perspective

    Cuskey expressed optimism for print media despite the industry sagging over the past several years.

    “We think there’s a bright outlook for local print media because there is a void there,” he said.

    He said Scotsman is active on the state and national levels as well as with different trade associations, and the feedback has been positive.

    “We firmly believe there’s a strong role for print going forward. It may be different than what we know now,” he said. “You have to be willing to embrace change and stay ahead of the curve. Everything that we know and what the experts talk about indicate that the local journalistic aspect is still very strong and has a bright future.”

    As far as The Valley News’ online presence, Cuskey said there are no immediate plans for change. “We want to get a handle on what is there right now,” he said.

    Ron Caravan addressed the reasons why the family has sold the business in a report published in The Valley News last Saturday.

    “For various personal reasons, the timing was right for us to retire from the responsibilities of publishing the community papers,” Caravan said. “When the opportunity arose recently to sell our interest to Scotsman, we felt a strong sense of confirmation that this was the right move at the right time. We have enjoyed a long and positive relationship with Scotsman and are confident they will sustain the tradition of The Valley News as the greater Fulton area’s primary community-news source.”

    Upon his retirement from the newspaper business, Vincent Caravan had completed over 50 years of service to The Valley News. He started working for the newspaper’s founders, Colson and Beatrice Carr, in 1959 as their managing editor and then became owner in 1972 upon the Carrs’ retirement. Ronald Caravan became involved in The Valley News in 1974, balancing his newspaper work with a separate career as a part-time professor for the Syracuse University School of Music and as a professional classical performer of clarinet and saxophone.

    He will be continuing his varied musical activities and university teaching, according to the published report.

Oswego County Business Magazine
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