Champion under new ownership

Sealing the deal to continue publication of the Champion under new ownership are Ralph Alldredge (left), Allen McCombs, Bruce Wood and Will Fleet.

 

The Chino Champion and Chino Hills Champion have been acquired by Will Fleet and Ralph Alldredge, who own and operate weekly newspapers in northern California.

The change in ownership will become effective Feb. 1.

“We believe community newspapers are important and have a bright future because we’ve seen it up close at our other newspapers,” Mr. Fleet said. “Al McCombs has built up a tremendous legacy and a very strong brand in this community. We’re proud to take that over and move forward.”

Champion owner and publisher emeritus McCombs said, “We have faith that Mr. Fleet and Mr. Alldredge will continue the Champion newspapers as a vital part of local life.”

“During the last 60 years, we have built the 130-year-old Champion into one of the strongest independent community weeklies in the state,” Mr. McCombs said. “In order to continue this legacy, at a time when the operation exceeds the ability of the McCombs family to continue it, we have sought out new owners who would keep the newspapers as a vital part of life in the Chino Valley community.”

Bruce Wood, who was named co-publisher in 2000 and took over as publisher in 2006, said he will help with the transition before resigning to spend more time with his family and concentrate on his health. 

Mr. McCombs served as editor and publisher from 1956 to 2006. He remains active, writing a column and serving as editor of the opinion page. He will continue writing his weekly column.

Mr. Fleet, 58, is a longtime newspaper man who was publisher of The Fresno Bee before going into partnership with Mr. Alldredge four years ago. He lives in Clovis.

Mr. Alldredge, 73, is a trial lawyer who specializes in media and newspaper cases. He lives in Angels Camp in Calaveras County, where he owns the Calaveras Enterprise.

Together they are owners and co-publishers of the Tracy Press, Patterson Irrigator and Scotts Valley Press-Banner.

They are also longtime friends who began their business partnership in 2012.

Mr. Fleet said he does not anticipate any changes to the Champion.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Mr. Alldredge said he was struck by the tight connection between the community and the Champion, a relationship he described as rare.

“We purposefully sought out individuals like Will and Ralph to keep the paper independent for the community,” Mr. Wood said. “Daily newspapers tend to absorb weeklies. The Champion is an important tradition going back to 1887 and we’d like to keep it that way as long as possible.”

Both Mr. Fleet and Mr. Alldredge are past presidents of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, where Mr. Fleet remains on the board. Mr. Fleet was named Newspaper Executive of the Year by the California Press Association in 2013.

Mr. Alldredge was named a California Trial Lawyer of the Year in 2008 after obtaining a precedent-setting judgment for the Bay Guardian newspaper in litigation under the California Unfair Practices Act.

 

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