RED WING — Fargo, N.D.-based Forum Communications Company has sold RiverTown Multimedia, which publishes the Republican Eagle and Star-Observer newspapers, to O’Rourke Media Group.
Readers will not see immediate changes to the print and digital editions after the transition takes effect Jan. 1, 2021, O’Rourke Media Group CEO Jim O’Rourke said. Additional details and future plans will be shared in the coming weeks.
“We’re excited about figuring out new and better ways to serve our readers and our advertisers,” O’Rourke said.
The community newspapers will focus on publishing useful, local news and information for readers in southeastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin, he said.
RiverTown’s existing seven-member newsroom, three members of its advertising sales department and a systems administrator will join O’Rourke Media Group.
The sale does not include the RiverTown office and production facility on North Service Drive in Red Wing. The Republican Eagle and Star-Observer will continue to be printed in Red Wing until the end of January, at which time the production facility will permanently close and positions not included in the acquisition will be cut.
A transition plan for printing the RiverTown newspapers is in development, company officials said.
Forum Communications Company executives and publisher Neal Ronquist announced the sale to RiverTown employees Thursday morning, Dec. 17. O’Rourke also met with editorial and advertising staff to discuss the transition.
The family-owned and operated O’Rourke Media Group launched in 2018 and has acquired community publications in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Vermont and Arizona, including the recent purchase of the Cannon Falls Beacon.
Forum Communications Company purchased Red Wing Publishing Co.'s RiverTown division in 2001. FCC reorganized the RiverTown group in 2019 down to four publications and the unified rivertowns.net website with the mergers of the Red Wing Republican Eagle and Pierce County Herald; Woodbury Bulletin and South Washington County Bulletin; and Hudson Star-Observer, River Falls Journal and New Richmond News.
The Bulletin and RiverTown’s Hastings Star Gazette newspapers were closed earlier this spring due in part to economic impacts caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to company officials.
This story was updated 6 p.m. Dec. 17, 2020, to update the number of RiverTown employees joining O'Rourke Media Group.