Lee Enterprises Company History Timeline


Lee was founded in 1890 in Iowa, by A.W. Lee.

Incorporated: 1890 as the Ottumwa Daily Courier


He started in the composing room, making $12 a week, but in 1893 jumped at a chance to become a reporter even with a temporary pay cut to $9 per week.


Adler advanced to city editor of the Courier in 1895, then to business manager.


1899: Lee purchases the Davenport Times (Iowa).


The Courier’s daily circulation of 575 grew to 3,709 by 1900.


Adler became publisher in 1901 but wore many hats – he was part advertising salesman, part circulation manager and part managing editor.


Lee’s extension into the broadcasting industry was lead by Lee P. Loomis, who had started with Lee in 1902 as a farm-to-farm subscription solicitor.


Recognizing the potential to improve and then profit from other holdings, Lee bought his old hometown newspaper, the Muscatine Journal, from his brother-in-law in 1903.


Shortly after launching his aggressive acquisition program, Lee died as a result of heart failure during a 1907 vacation in Europe.

In 1907, moreover, he picked up the Hannibal Courier-Post, a nearby Missouri newspaper, and the La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune, which was just north of his Iowa operations.


In 1915, he purchased the Democrat, a Davenport, Iowa, newspaper.


Adler’s colorful existence was evidenced by an attempt in 1917 to kidnap him from a hotel, stuff him in a trunk, and hold him for $40,000 ransom.


In 1926, the company bought the Kewanee Star-Courier in Illinois, and Adler installed his 23-year-old son, Philip, as publisher.


In 1937, Lee purchased its first broadcasting unit, KGLO, a radio station in Mason City, Iowa.


Adler ran Lee Syndicate until 1947.


Lee’s first major press conversion was in Missoula, where the publisher was Lloyd Schermer, who was married in 1951 to Betty Adler, daughter of Philip Adler.


Adler and Gottlieb worked closely together through a 1952 printers’ strike, one of the first confrontations between organized labor and the newspaper industry.

After receiving an MBA from Harvard in 1952, Schermer returned to St Louis to run a heating and air conditioning business in which his father had invested.


The 46-year-old Schermer started with Lee in 1954 after receiving his masters degree in business administration from Harvard University.


Philip D. AdlerPhilip Adler helped direct a major transformation of the company from being purely Midwestern with the purchase of a group of Montana newspapers in 1959.

In 1959, Schermer became business manager of the Missoulian, then publisher two years later.


In 1960, for example, KEYC-TV of Mankato, Minnesota, began broadcasting.

Just before retiring in 1960, in fact, Loomis oversaw the buyout of six Montana newspapers for $6 million.

Also in 1960, all of Lee’s holdings were officially consolidated under Lee Enterprises, Incorporated.


After graduating from the University of Arizona in 1964, Dick Gottlieb joined the advertising staff of the Davenport Times, now the Quad-City Times, where he had worked in the production department while attending high school and college.


1969: Lee makes its first public stock offering.


In 1970, he joined Gottlieb in Davenport as vice president of newspaper operations.


She began her newspaper career in 1972 at the Charlotte Observer, having received a bachelor's degree in English from Valparaiso University and a master's degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Lloyd G. Schermer became president of Lee in 1973.

In 1973, our newspaper in Davenport, Iowa, became the first in the world to be produced totally by computer.


The first Lee purchase under Schermer's direction was KGMB-TV of Honolulu, Hawaii, in 1976.


Lee has been traded on the New York Stock Exchange since 1978.


After helping build a modern press facility and newspaper offices in Madison, he was named publisher of The Journal Times in Racine in 1980, where he spearheaded revitalization of the city’s lakefront.


In 1983, for example, Schermer initiated Call-It Co. as a subsidiary of Lee.


Richard D. GottliebIn 1985, Schermer brought his predecessor’s son, Richard Gottlieb, to Davenport to help him run the company.


In 1986, Schermer became chief executive officer of the company and Richard D. Gottlieb, son of David Gottlieb, took over as president.


By 1990, on its 100-year anniversary, Lee was operating 19 newspapers in small- to medium-sized towns, and six television stations in 13 states.


Johnson, Charles S., “Lee Publishers, Governor Deny Making Sales-Tax Deal,” Missoulian, May 25, 1993, sec.


Rondy, John, “Racine’s Journal Times Takes the Flexographic Press Plunge,” Business Journal-Milwaukee, February 12, 1994, sec.

“Missoulian Editor Joins New Venture,” Missoulian, May 7, 1994, sec.

Furthermore, the company anticipated receipts of about $400 million during 1994 based on surging sales early in the year.

Besides publishing about 20 daily newspapers and more than 30 specialty publications, Lee owned and operated eight TV stations in 1994 and manufactured graphic arts systems that it sold to other publishers.

Form 10-K: Lee Enterprises, Incorporated, Washington, DC: Securities and Exchange Commission, 1994.


Earlier, in 1995, Lee also bought out the company's partners in Nebraska's Journal-Star Printing Co., merging the family-owned Lincoln Journal with Lee's Lincoln Star to create what was then Lee's second-largest daily.


Lee sold its interest in 1996 as the market for that type of plate began maturing.


1997: Pacific Northwest Publishing Group is acquired.


Mary JunckMary Junck, a native of Ogden, Iowa, a small town near Ames in western Iowa, joined Lee in July 1999 as executive vice president, chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors.

In 1999, Gottlieb lured his successor to the company, someone without family ties but with strong Midwestern roots.

In late 1999, the company acquired the Beatrice Daily Sun in Nebraska as part of a deal that also involved trading away two long-time Lee papers in Ottumwa and Kewanee.


In January 2000, he became chairman and chief executive officer.

In 2000, Lee purchased three weeklies and two dailies in Nebraska, including the Columbus Telegram and the Fremont Tribune.

In 2000, the company also decided to sell its television stations, choosing to focus on Lee's core strength, newspaper publishing, along with specialty publications and related Internet sites.

Lee operated a broadcasting division, which it sold in 2000 to pay off debt and in order to focus on newspaper publishing.


Long-time newspaper executive Mary Junck was at the helm of Lee as president and CEO by 2001.


She orchestrated the largest deal in company history in 2002 when she announced the $694 million acquisition of Howard Publishing Inc.

She was named chairman in 2002 after Gottlieb retired.

2002: Howard Publications Inc. is purchased.


By early 2003, Lee's revenue had climbed by 58.9 percent and its daily circulation was up by 75 percent to 1.13 million.


Much of this remains from the purchase of Pulitzer Inc. for $1.5 billion in 2005.


Most of the TV stations were sold to Emmis Communications, and have all been sold, as of 2007, to other companies.


The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2011.


In April 2012, Warren Buffett took a stake in Lee Enterprises (through Berkshire Hathaway Inc.), buying $85 million of the company's debt from Goldman Sachs Group.

In June 2012, Berkshire Hathaway filed an amended Form 13F (13F-HR/A) for the period ending March 31, 2012.


In April 2013, Lee Enterprises announced that Berkshire Hathaway refinanced the remaining Pulitzer acquisition debt equating to $94 million, at no cost.


On January 29, 2020, Lee Enterprises announced an agreement to buy Berkshire Hathaway’s BH Media Group publications and The Buffalo News for $140 million cash.


"Lee Enterprises, Incorporated ." International Directory of Company Histories. . Retrieved June 22, 2022 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/books/politics-and-business-magazines/lee-enterprises-incorporated

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