Dave Martens
Dave Martens

The York Dispatch will soon have a new owner.

Phil Buckner, who has owned the newspaper since 2004, is transferring ownership to The York Dispatch Publisher Dave Martens.

The change is effective Jan. 1, when Martens will add president of The York Dispatch Publishing Co. to his title.

Buckner, 83, is retiring at the end of this month, he said.

"I'm very pleased at this stage of my life to pass ownership to a longtime colleague I respect. I know he will continue to honor the tradition of The York Dispatch," Buckner said.

That tradition is "totally York," he said.

Buckner said he was speaking from knowledge he acquired after being at the helm of both papers.

Before owning and publishing the Dispatch, Buckner and Martens previously led the York Daily Record. They've worked together since 1973.

"We've been colleagues for more than 40 years and wanted to figure out what would make a good newspaper. I'm proud of him, fond of him and very pleased to be able to pass the ownership to Dave," Buckner said.

Editor Lori Goodlin said the change in ownership will not mean any changes for the readers.

"They will notice no difference. It will be business as usual," she said.

Martens agreed the transfer of leadership will be a smooth transition.

He said he wanted to be both publisher and president of The York Dispatch because he's always enjoyed the competition of the two-newspaper town and loves the changing environment of journalism.

"The franchise of this paper is the local reporting. I'm proud of this team, and I think we can keep raising the bar," Martens said. "We're going to keep growing our audience, which is going mobile, and discuss how to improve our mobile content."

Martens said he will continue a close relationship with Buckner, keeping him in the loop of York news.

"We had a good, long run. He gave me a chance to do so many new things and has been a wonderful mentor," Martens said.

Buckner started his media career as a reporter in Lowell, Mass., when he was 28 years old. Spending more than 50 years in the industry has left him with a lot he wishes to impart on younger colleagues and reporters, he said.

"Have a heart," Buckner said. "Try to put yourself in other people's shoes. Be respectful of others' lives while trying to report the facts-and get the facts straight. Editors and reporters need to know what the public needs to know and where to draw the line. It's a balancing act between justice and mercy."

-Reach Candy Woodall at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.