Democrat Photo by Sue Whalen
CELEBRATING THE OFFICIAL merger of the Sullivan County Democrat and the Towne Crier newspapers were, from the left: Democrat publisher Fred Stabbert III, Crier managing editor Van Morrow, attorney Walter Garigliano, representing the Democrat, Crier Managing Editor Barbara Gref, and attorney Brian Rourke, representing the Crier.
'Town Crier' Acquired by 'Democrat': Two Newspapers Merge
By Jeanne Sager
CALLICOON November 3, 2006 Sullivan County’s official newspaper has a new partner in the news business.
Sullivan County Democrat Publisher Fred Stabbert III signed his name to a contract Wednesday completing the purchase of the Towne Crier by Democrat parent company Catskill-Delaware Publications.
It’s a deal that’s been four months in the making born of a plan for the county’s two premier news organizations to work together on a few special sections.
“As talks progressed, it became more apparent we could actually work together better as one company,” Stabbert explained.
The twice-weekly Democrat will continue to arrive in mailboxes with Tuesday and Friday datelines, and subscribers of the Towne Crier will continue to see their paper hit newsstands on Wednesdays.
Even the staff will remain the same Crier managing editors Barbara Gref and Van Morrow will stay on board, working hand-in-hand with Democrat editor Frank Rizzo to deliver the news of the day.
Stabbert called the two papers “friendly competitors.”
The Towne Crier was founded in 1990 by Carolyn Bivins as a free monthly newspaper.
Gref, Morrow and a third partner, David Dann, acquired the paper from Bivins in April 2001 and developed the publication as a paid-subscription newspaper.
In 2003, the paper went to a weekly publication schedule.
“They are more issue-oriented reporting,” Stabbert explained. “Instead of trying to cover the news, they try to cover how the news affects the area.”
The 115-year-old Democrat is known for its straight reporting of the facts.
Combing the two, Stabbert said, will enable Catskill Delaware Publications to new heights.
“It’s actually a move to really provide a new level of service to our advertisers with added staff and more attention to detail,” he explained. “And it will allow us to be the top news organization in Sullivan County … which we always thought we were pretty darn close to… but this will ensure that.”
“We see this as an excellent opportunity for the Towne Crier to realize its full potential as a community newspaper,” added Gref, who has spent 20 years in the weekly and daily newspaper business.
“This alliance makes a lot of sense from a business standpoint and it will also allow both the Democrat and the Towne Crier to use its newsroom resources more wisely,” she continued.
“The result, we all feel, will be better journalism and better newspapers on all levels.”
With the purchase, the Catskill Delaware Publications staff will grow to more than 40.
That staff will be able to cover more of the news in the growing Sullivan County area and serve the businesses across the region.
“At The Towne Crier we have had tremendous support from the community of advertisers and readers, and we want to reward that support by continuing to grow the paper,” Morrow said. “The new arrangement with Catskill-Delaware Publications allows The Towne Crier to keep its autonomy, and this will be a benefit to readers as well as advertisers as we take this publication forward.”
The change happens just as the Democrat unveils a new look to its pages sometime in the next two months, designed with the help of an expert from North Carolina.
But Stabbert said the redesign and the changes won’t change the missions of the two papers.
“We have committed ourselves as a company to keep up with technology with the purchase of new business software as well as new editorial software,” he said. “With keeping up with technology, we’ve found new ideas on how to grow.”
The paper will celebrate 80 years under the leadership of the Stabbert family in February.
In that time, they’ve purchased the files and subscription lists of two other newspapers, Jeffersonville’s Sullivan County Record and the Liberty Register, without deviating from their goal of reporting the news.
“We hope our readers enjoy us as much as they have during the last three centuries,” Stabbert said.
The same goes for readers of the Towne Crier.