- The Washington Times - Friday, February 2, 2001

The Gazette Newspaper Co. will buy Southern Maryland Newspapers from Chesapeake Publishing Co., expanding the Gaithersburg-based chain of community weeklies into Southern Maryland.

The companies would not disclose the terms of the deal, which was announced yesterday, but the contract is expected to go into effect March 1.

The Gazette newspapers, owned by The Washington Post Co., will add the Maryland Independent in Charles County, the Lexington Park Enterprise in St. Mary's County, and the Recorder in Calvert County. All the papers are published twice weekly.

Also included in the sale are the Enquirer-Gazette, a paid-circulation paper based in Upper Marlboro; four weekly publications, the St. Charles Independent, the La Plata Independent, the Southern Maryland Connector and the South County Current; Flightline and Defense Contractor, two publications that serve military bases in Southern Maryland; and the commercial printing operation based in Waldorf.

The Gazette publishes 35 community newspapers with a combined circulation of more than 500,000 copies throughout Montgomery and Prince George's counties and Frederick, is a contract publisher of newspapers and guides for 11 military installations in the Washington area, publishes two Internet sites and operates a commercial printing plant in Gaithersburg.

Chuck Lyons, publisher and president of the Gazette, said the acquisition will give the chain a stronger presence in reporting community news.

"The Gazette thinks community news is a really good business, and they saw buying the paper as a chance to become part of it," he said.

Mr. Lyons added that the company has no immediate plans to change the way Southern Maryland Newspapers is run or staffed.

John Morton, president of media research group Morton Research Inc., says the acquisition is a good move for The Post.

"It'll enlarge the footprints of The Washington Post Company and its overall market," he said. "Strategically, it's a smart thing to do."

He added that buying the newspaper chain establishes The Post's position in areas important to the company.

"It saves The Washington Post Company from creating specific zone publications," he said. "It's an economical way to serve its territory."

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