Fourth Quarter: Paxton, Adams add in key states
The year ended with expansion-minded privately held newspapers making acquisitions in areas where they already had a significant presence.
Paxton Media Group added daily newspapers in North Carolina and Kentucky (see map on page 6). Meanwhile, Adams Publishing Group picked up two operations in southeastern Wisconsin in separate deals.
Finally, the owners of the Longview News-Journal in northeast Texas bought the neighboring daily Morning Telegraph in Tyler and non-daily Kilgore News Herald from separate owners.
All six of these deals represented local owners selling to strategic buyers seeking to grow regional holdings. The other two daily newspaper sales culminating in the fourth quarter saw the establishment of new independent owners.
Going for the Gold
Paxton acquired the Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus, expanding its holdings in the state from seven to eight dailies.
Based in High Point, the Paxton North Carolina group includes dailies in High Point, Henderson, Sanford, Monroe, Lenoir, Forest City and Roanoke Rapids. The Roanoke Rapids Daily Herald was added earlier in 2018.
The Goldsboro transaction included a publication serving the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and other complementary print and online operations.
Founded in 1885, the News-Argus had been owned by the Buchheit and Tanner families. In 1953, Wayne Printing Company was formed to acquire the Goldsboro newspaper. Its shareholders included Hal H. Tanner Sr., who served as publisher and president of the company. He was succeeded in these roles first by his son, Hal H. Tanner Jr. and then by his grandson, Hal H. Tanner III, who was operating the company at the time of the sale.
Just a Hop from Paducah
Separately, Paxton bought the Hopkinsville (KY) New Era and a number of non-daily publications in western Kentucky not far from its company headquarters in Paducah. The sellers were longtime local owners.
The deal also included the twice-weekly Princeton Times Leader, and weeklies Dawson Springs Progress, Providence Journal-Enterprise, Oak Grove Eagle and Fort Campbell Courier, which serves the U.S. Army Base at nearby Fort Campbell. All of the publications are in western Kentucky.
The New Era group joins other Paxton newspapers in the region, including the flagship Paducah Sun and publications in Owensboro, Madisonville and Russellville, among others.
The Kentucky New Era was established in 1869 by two former Confederate officers who thought it was time for a “new era” in the aftermath of the Civil War. Today, it is the longest operating business in Hopkinsville.
The Wood family acquired full interest in the newspaper in 1881. Family member Taylor Wood Hayes was running the company at the time of the sale.
Adams Publishing acquired two newspaper operations serving markets in the same southeastern Wisconsin county. The sellers were both family owners who had operated independently from each other for many years.
Adams bought the Watertown Daily Times and a weekly publication from the third and fourth generations of the Clifford family, which had owned the daily since 1919. James Clifford, chairman of the company that owned the newspaper, said the Daily Times would be in a stronger position to compete in the current environment as part of a larger group.
Meanwhile, Adams also added the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort Atkinson and 13 community newspapers and shoppers from the Knox family. Both Watertown and Fort Atkinson are located in Jefferson County. The newspaper/shopper group spans parts of six counties in south central Wisconsin.
Brian Knox, who was publisher of the Fort Atkinson group, represented the second generation of the family to own the newspapers.
The weekly/shopper group, known as Hometown News, publishes the twice-weekly Sun Prairie Star plus eight weekly newspapers, among other publications.
In announcing the sale, Knox said “we’ve reached the point where we need to be much bigger to spread costs and to take advantage of rapidly changing technologies.”
M. Roberts Media, owners of daily newspapers in south and northeastern Texas, bought the Tyler Morning Telegraph from the Clyde family, which had owned the newspaper for more than 100 years.
The deal brings together daily newspapers in Longview, Marshall and Tyler, along with some non-daily publications in the northeastern corner of the state. M. Roberts Media also owns the Victoria Advocate in south Texas.
Clyde family ownership of the Tyler Morning Telegraph goes back to 1910 when T.B. Butler acquired the newspaper after a fire destroyed its production plant. Nelson Clyde, IV, who was running the operation at the time of the sale, succeeded his father and grandfather in that role.
The Roberts family has owned the Victoria Advocate since 1942. They acquired the Longview and Marshall dailies in 2012 from ASP Westward, which bought them from Cox Newspapers in 2009.
In a separate deal, M. Roberts added the twice-weekly Kilgore News Herald in the same region from local owner Bill Woodall. Kilgore is located about 12 miles from Longview.
Going Local in Colorado
The Shearman family of Lake Charles, Louisiana, sold the daily Trinidad (CO) Chronicle-News to a group of local residents. The Shearman family had owned the community newspaper since 1943.
The new owners are Julie and Kirk Loudon and Kim and Rich Hoffman, operating as Chronicle-News Media Group.
The Shearman family continues to own its flagship newspaper the American Press in Lake Charles and the Hobbs (NM) News-Sun.
Former GateHouse Media and Digital First Media executive Jim O’Rourke bought the St. Albans (VT) Messenger from local owners.
O’Rourke most recently was president of World Book, Inc. Prior to that, he was a group publisher for Digital First from 2012 to 2014 and for GateHouse from 2006 to 2012.