Country Media Sells Eight Weeklies to Lee EnterprisesBack to News

SCOTTSBLUFF, NE December 7, 2004 – Steve Hungerford, president of Country Media, Inc., announced today the completion of the sale of eight weekly newspapers, two shoppers and a monthly gaming publication in the Black Hills of South Dakota and Sand Hills of northwest Nebraska to Lee Enterprises, Inc. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a newspaper merger-and-acquisition firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represented Country Media, Inc. in the transaction.

The eight weekly newspapers have paid circulation totaling 12,300. They are the Meade County (SD) Times-Tribune, Black Hills (SD) Press, Butte County (SD) Valley Irrigator, Belle Fourche (SD) Post , Belle Fourche (SD) Bee , Lawrence County (SD) Centennial, Hot Springs (SD) Star and Chadron (NE) Record. The two shoppers are the Star Extra in South Dakota, and in Nebraska, Your Neighbor. The remaining publication, Deadwood Gaming, has monthly distribution of 9,640 throughout South Dakota.

"We’ve greatly appreciated the opportunity to be associated with these fine newspapers and the communities they serve," said Steve Hungerford. "At the same time, this change in ownership will provide resources and leadership to solidify the progress the papers have made over the past four years."

The publications will supplement the Rapid City (SD) Journal, a division of Lee Enterprises. Bill Masterson, Jr., publisher of the Rapid City Journal, said all of the 26 employees, including managers and editors, have been invited to stay.

“This is a win-win situation for everyone,” Masterson said. “The resources of the Rapid City Journal can help the weeklies produce top-notch newspapers while providing the Journal with a daily portal into every hills community, which will improve the Journal’s coverage of important events. At the same time, we are committed to making sure that each community has its own local voice, independent of any neighboring newspaper or the Rapid City Journal.”

Country Media retains ownership of its eight other community newspapers in South and North Dakota and Montana, and its two agricultural publications.

Lee Enterprises, headquartered in Davenport, Iowa, owns 38 daily newspapers and a joint interest in six others, as well as 200 non-daily publications.

For further information contact Owen Van Essen at Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, (phone) 505-820-2700 or (fax) 505-820-2900.