News-Journal to change ownership
By From Staff Reports
May 30, 2012 at 10 p.m.
Texas Community Media LLC announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement to purchase the Longview News-Journal, Marshall News Messenger and a related group of East Texas weekly newspapers from ASP Westward.
The deal was expected to close soon. Terms were not disclosed.
The principal investors in Texas Community Media are members of the families that have owned and operated the Victoria Advocate, Texas' second-oldest daily newspaper, for three generations. Stephen McHaney, who has been co-publisher of the Advocate, is president of the new company. He said the acquisition reflects the continued strength of community newspapers and their websites.
"We were attracted to these local media companies because of how well they are run and how well they serve their communities," said McHaney, who is moving with his family from Victoria to Longview and will assume the role of News-Journal publisher.
Tom Stamper, president of East Texas Community Newspapers who has been publisher of the News-Journal since shortly after it and the News Messenger were acquired in late 2009, said he was stepping down to pursue other opportunities.
"I'm proud of the team and what we've achieved both in the journalism product and overall performance of these papers in a relatively short time," Stamper said "Returning the News-Journal, News Messenger and the rest of the group to local ownership under Texas Community Media is good news for East Texas."
The News-Journal, with a daily paid circulation of more than 23,000, is the flagship newspaper of the East Texas group.
In addition to the News Messenger, where Phil Latham will remain as editor and publisher, the purchase includes 12 paid-circulation weekly newspapers throughout the region. Those are the Atlanta Citizens Journal, The Big Sandy & Hawkins Journal, Bowie County Citizens Tribune, Cass County Sun, The Daingerfield Bee, The Gladewater Mirror, The Grand Saline Sun, Lindale News & Times, Mineola Monitor, The Panola Watchman, The Pittsburg Gazette and Wood County Democrat. Together, the daily and weekly newspapers, along with their online products, reach nearly 300,000 consumers each week.
McHaney said that broad reach would be expanded under Texas Community Media.
"We know how much community newspapers contribute to bringing a local community together," he said. "Our goal is to be more focused than ever on connecting with our communities. While this may mark a new beginning for our company, our focus will remain on providing consistently high quality and superb value to the readers and advertisers, and we will continue the long tradition of strong service throughout our local communities."
ASP Westward CEO Jim Hopson said he was confident in the future of the newspapers under the ownership of Texas Community Media.
"Texas Community Media brings a vast knowledge of Texas and of community newspapers to the table," Hopson said.
McHaney said he was excited about getting started in Longview.
"I look forward to working closely with the many talented people at these newspapers and getting involved in the East Texas community," he said.