Wednesday afternoon the venerable Pelican Press was sold to the Sarasota-based Observer Group for an undisclosed sum. The weekly newspaper was sold by Journal Communications of Milwaukee. Pelican editor Rachel Hackney confirmed the sale.
The Observer Group operates four publications in the Sarasota-Manatee area and one on the Palm Coast in eastern Florida.
The agreement was reached after executives of Journal Communications flew into Sarasota to sign the papers. Hackney indicates all of the Journal publications in Florida are for sale, including The Mariner in Venice, Clay Today and the Punta Vedra newspaper near Jacksonville.
The Pelican Press, based on Siesta Key, has a 40-year history in the area. It regularly wins awards from the Florida Press Association for excellence in journalism, including recent awards for editorials and in-depth reporting. It is in contention this year for best investigative reporting.
Full disclosure: Stan Zimmerman is the county beat reporter for the Pelican Press.