Ottaway Newspapers, Inc. to acquire the Barnstable Patriot

Story in Tuesday's Cape Cod Times about their latest media buy:

Ottaway group buys Patriot

By ERIC GERSHON
STAFF WRITER
HYANNIS - The corporate parent of the Cape Cod Times has bought The Barnstable Patriot, the Times' main competitor in the Cape's largest town and commercial hub.

The sale of the Patriot to New York-based Ottaway Newspapers Inc. for an undisclosed sum ends 175 years of independent ownership for the Cape's oldest newspaper.

A weekly with a circulation of 4,500, the Patriot was founded in 1830.

The Times is among 15 daily and 19 weekly newspapers owned by Ottaway, which is itself a subsidiary of Dow Jones & Co. The Times' daily circulation is 50,000 on weekdays and 70,000 on Sundays.

Times publisher Peter Meyer announced the purchase yesterday.

Rob Sennott, who with his wife, Toni, bought the Patriot in 1994, will continue as publisher of the weekly, and report to Meyer.

All 13 of the Patriot's full-time employees, including editor David Still II, will become Ottaway employees.

The news-gathering operations of the papers, located a block apart on Hyannis' Main Street, will remain separate and independent, Meyer said. Some business functions - such as billing and human resources - will merge, he said. Also, the Times will help the Patriot expand its Web site.

''The critical factor is that we have two independent voices,'' Meyer said. ''We will absolutely maintain that.''

The Times occasionally publishes stories produced by other Ottaway newspapers, including The Inquirer & Mirror, a weekly Nantucket paper. But Times interim Editor Paul Pronovost said this would not be the case with the Patriot.

''We will not share stories, resources, photos, tips or graphics,'' he wrote in an e-mail to the Times newsroom. ''We will not have one unified editorial voice ... We will compete for news and so will they.''

The Patriot had not been advertised for sale when Meyer approached the Sennotts about buying it, Sennott said. Discussions took place over several months this year, both publishers said.

Ottaway's vastly greater resources will help the Patriot improve in ways it otherwise could not afford, said Sennott, such as publishing in color.

Meyer hinted that Ottaway is looking to buy other papers.

''Frankly, if there are other quality weeklies available on Cape Cod, we'd be interested in talking with them as well,'' he said.

A 1994 front-page story in the Patriot reported on the Sennotts' purchase of the newspaper from Barbara Haskins Williams, whose family owned it from 1923 to mid-1994.

''Williams had rebuffed offers from others interested in the Patriot over the past two years, the report said, ''not wanting it to become part of a newspaper conglomerate or chain.''

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