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The Republican Decides It Could Use a Reminder to Advance…

Does a New Dawn await the The Reminder at its East Longmeadow office? (WMassP&I)

The Greater Springfield media landscape experienced a shakeup after the region’s largest news organization scooped up an area weekly. The Republican has purchased Reminder Publications, which publishes two weeklies and two monthly magazines under The Reminder name, ending 56 years of family ownership. Despite being a textbook example of media consolidation, optimism, not trepidation, has defined early reaction among Reminder staff and alumni.

Despite the sale, little will change immediately aside from the appointment of Fran Smith. He now leads Reminder Publications as general manager. Chris and Dan Buendo, the now-former owners, will retain an honorary presence on the masthead. Smith will be in charge with Managing Editor G. Michael Dobbs staying on as well.

“There will be no layoffs, and absolutely no interruption of normal news coverage or advertiser services,” Smith said in stories both The Republican and The Reminder published.

Media reports and public statements the companies aver that Reminder Publications and The Republican Company shall remain distinct business with their own papers and websites.

Though their coverage overlaps, Reminder Publications has had a much more hyperlocal focus on the immediate Springfield area. By contrast The Republican, which maintains reporters on full-time beat in Holyoke and Boston sweeps out much further.

George Arwady (via Twitter/@geainma)

It was not immediately clear what the corporate structure would be, however. The Republican’s publisher and CEO George Arwady, apparently speaking from a position of authority over both companies, assured The Reminder would endure.

“We believe in print and want The Reminders to remain as the strong and independent local publications that readers and advertisers have come to cherish,” he said. The quote appeared in both papers’ articles.

In an email, Arwady refused to answer additional questions about the corporate structure, potential interplay or synergy between papers, or parent company Advance Publication’s experience owning more than one paper in the same region.

The Republican’s article “speaks for itself,” he said in an email. “I have nothing to add.”

Corporate hierarchies of these companies may seem prosaic, but it carries some salience as businesses which Advance Publications owns.

Through its local media arm Advance Local, the New York-based media company owns both The Republican and Masslive. Once The Republican’s online alter-ego, Masslive today is a distinct company with a completely separate newsroom. However, the two are media partners and publish material in each other’s mediums.

Advance Publications did not return a request for comment as of posting time. Dobbs, The Reminder’s managing editor, declined to comment.

Various Advance properties under NJ Advance Media, including the Star-Ledger, have faced cutbacks and consolidation of business functions over the years. (via whyy.org)

The retrenchment of local and print journalism has rocked the industry for a decade. Advance is no exception. The company has consolidated and restructured its assets while emphasizing digital, where it owns multiple outlets in one market as in New Jersey.

However, nothing like that seems to be in store the Republican-Reminder family for now. Both publications’ stories observed The Republican signed a four-year lease for The Reminder to remain at its current East Longmeadow headquarters. It is among several promises kept so far.

Chris Goudreau, a staff writer at The Valley Advocate and a former Reminder staffer, was surprised to hear the news. However, he was confident his former colleagues would rise to the new chapter ahead.

“I know both The Republican and The Reminder strive to deliver well reported, accurate, and informative news having started my career as a freelancer at The Republican and as a former assistant editor with Reminder Publications,” he said in an email.

Meanwhile, there are no imminent plans to cross-pollenate stories or advertising as The Republican and Masslive do now. No columns are slated to end—including the Buendos’.

“Basically, it’s business as usual,” Smith, the new general manager, said in the papers’ articles.

The sale ostensibly went through a few weeks ago, but only became public Tuesday morning some time after The Republican notified its staff.

The transition continues a trend of family-owned papers selling to larger media concerns. Although begun long ago, it has picked up speed among smaller outlets in recent years. The Buendo family founded their company in 1962 according to The Reminder‘s story.

Like other Reminder alums, the news shocked Angelique Fiske. However, as other former staffers—and the vibe from The Reminder—have indicated, Fiske thinks there’s a lot of potential.

“Though I was taken aback and its sad to see the Buendo family step aside, I think it’s a great opportunity,” she said in a direct message.

Reminder Publications remains a key purveyor of local news in Springfield and environs. Yet some have worried it has not always played its unique hand well. Fiske, who is now a lifestyle editor at Patriots.com, did not speak to that specifically. However, she hoped The Republican’s buy could broaden The Reminder’s reach and strengthen both institutions.

The Reminder has been and will continue to be home to exception and thorough local reporting,” she said, adding “hopefully this move will expose even more readers to their reliable work.”

*WMassP&I editor-in-chief Matt Szafranski has appeared on 30 Minutes With, a program Dobbs hosts on Focus Springfield.

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