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Phil Anschutz-owned company buys Colorado Springs Gazette

For years, media observers have speculated that Dean Singleton would someday purchase the Colorado Springs Gazette with the idea of synergizing with his other Front Range newspapers, most prominently the Denver Post. But that day isn't today. With Singleton taking a backseat to John Paton in Digital First Media and the Post outsourcing call center jobs to Honduras, Phil Anschutz-owned Clarity Media Group has added the Gazette to its portfolio.

The ideological fit is certainly tight. Anschutz is a faith-driven conservative -- descriptors that are frequently applied to Colorado Springs itself. The Gazette's right-leaning editorial stance will need little tweaking to line up with his worldview, and if there's a problem, his son, not coincidentally named Christian, will be close by to make sure adjustments are made. After all, he'll serve as co-vice chairman of the Gazette in tandem with Ryan McKibben, onetime publisher of the Post.

An inside source portrays the Gazette's financial situation is challenging, but given Anschutz's unfathomably deep pockets, turning an immense profit isn't an immediate concern. As such, employees at the Gazette are probably breathing easier than most of their peers on the current journalism landscape.

Look below to see the press release about the purchase.

Clarity Media Group purchases The Gazette newspaper

DENVER -- Ryan McKibben, CEO of Clarity Media Group, announced today the purchase of The Gazette -- the Colorado Springs daily newspaper -- from Freedom Communications, Inc.

One of the first decisions made by McKibben, who will also serve as Chairman of The Gazette organization, was to retain Dan Steever in his present post as President and Publisher.

"Dan is an exceptional manager who has strengthened and grown every organization he's led. Most of all, his passionate commitment to The Gazette makes him its ideal publisher."

The Gazette was founded in 1872 and was acquired by Freedom Communications in 1946. The Gazette is the second largest daily newspaper in Colorado behind the Denver Post, with a daily circulation of 74,172 and a Sunday circulation of 85,718. The Gazette serves El Paso and Teller Counties.

According to McKibben:

"We have had an interest in the Colorado Springs market for some time. It's a growing, dynamic region...anchored by a robust tourism industry, significant military operations, the US Olympic headquarters and training facility, and several leading hi-tech firms. The Gazette has been an important part of the Colorado Springs community for 140 years. We intend to create a new level of excellence at The Gazette by adding additional news pages, growing circulation, improving digital capabilities and bringing more focus to local news that's important to readers."

Aaron B. Kushner, CEO of Freedom Communication, which owns the Orange County Register and four other daily newspapers, was also pleased with the transaction:

"The Gazette is one of our premier properties and an incredibly important institution. We were impressed with Clarity and how they share our belief in the value of The Gazette and investing in its health and growth. Clarity is a savvy and experienced media company and we are thrilled to see the commitment to quality that they bring to Colorado Springs and The Gazette."

Both McKibben and Christian Anschutz, who will serve as Vice Chairman of The Gazette, pledged to expand coverage of the region's military operations. Anschutz commented on the importance of the military's presence in El Paso County:

"Outside of Washington, DC, the Colorado Springs area has the most significant array of military operations in the country, with the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command /United States Northern Command (NORAD/NORTHCOM), and the United States Air Force Space Command, located at Peterson Air Force Base Complex; the U.S. Air Force Academy; and nearby Fort Carson, home of the U.S. Army's Fourth Infantry Division. As well as the Space & Missile Defense Command of Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT), the 50th Space Wing (USAF) at Schriever AFB, and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Together these important military operations provide employment of more than 61,500 and an annual economic impact of nearly $6 billion to the Colorado Springs area."

McKibben also announced the appointment of Joe Hight as editor of The Gazette. Hight has been in journalism for more than 30 years, ranging as a reporter to managing editor. He served as managing editor of The Oklahoman and director of information and development for the organization, where among other things, he led on-line development. As a reporter for the Lawton Constitution in 1982 he covered military affairs and city government.

Hight was elected last year to a three-year term to the Associated Press Media Editors board, based in New York. He has also authored and co-authored articles on journalism and the media's coverage of tragedies. Hight has lectured throughout the United States, Australia, London and Ireland.

McKibben commented on Hight's appointment:

"Joe Hight is a perfect fit as the new editor of The Gazette. He has experience in virtually every facet of journalism, from the ground-up as a reporter to managing editor. We have every expectation that Hight can reinvigorate all aspects of the newspaper, and his more recent concentration with Internet development ensures that The Gazette will be a well-positioned news organization going into the future."

Financial details of the transaction were not disclosed.

About Clarity Media Group

Denver based Clarity Media Group owns The Washington Examiner newspaper in Washington, D.C. and The Weekly Standard magazine. It also owns examiner.com, a network of local websites in 244 markets across North America, powered by "Examiners," a pool of over 85,000 passionate contributors -- who provide original content about all things local. The Internet site is one of the fastest growing local information resources with over 40 million unique visitors each month.

More from our Media archive: "Paging through Phil Anschutz's latest purchase, The Weekly Standard."


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