Hearst headquarters in New York.


Hearst said Monday that it has acquired the business operations of The Pioneer Group, a Michigan-based owner of local newspapers and digital sites. Hearst did not disclose financials of the deal.

The fourth-generation owned family business run by Jack and John Batdorff circulates a host of daily papers, including the Pioneer and Manistee News Advocate, as well as three weekly papers and four local shopper publications. It also operates a digital marketing services business.

Hearst said the acquisition furthers its newspapers division’s connection to the local Michigan communities, which includes its Huron Daily Tribune and the Midland Daily News titles.

“We are proud to follow four generations of Batdorff family leadership in these central Michigan communities,” Hearst Newspapers president Mark Aldam said. “This addition is an essential part of our desire to further serve readers in Michigan.”

After its founding in 1862 with a four-page weekly newspaper, The Pioneer Group has grown to serve as a regional leader in communications without losing its community-centric focus.

 “We have every confidence that Hearst will be good stewards of the community, and will be a progressive community partner, a goal we’ve tried to fulfill over the years,” Jack Batdorff said. “They have a reputation for giving back and for taking care of their people, which has always been important to our family.”

“Hearst has the resources and specific expertise across many media platforms to take the products and the company to a whole new level,” John Batdorff said. “I’m excited for the employees who are joining Hearst, which is a family company too, just on a much bigger scale.”

The Pioneer publisher John Norton will continue in his role following the acquisition, Hearst said.

“Hearst has made a major investment in digital marketing solutions, which we can now roll out into our markets, adding more choices and value for our customers,” Norton said. “It’s going to be exciting for all of us to be a part of this growth step.”

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