While some of the papers in the chain date back, under previous ownership, to the early 20th century, the company was founded in its current form in 1969, as part of SunMedia. In 1998 it was sold to Advance Publications, part of the S.I. Newhouse media empire, which also publishesThe Plain Dealer, the region's major daily.
The 11 papers are divided into four groups. Each group is responsible for two to three different papers, all of which have strictly defined coverage areas.