Saturday, January 28, 2023

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Burlington daily newspaper sold (again) – for 5th time in decade

New ownership by Kentucky company to take effect Dec. 1

The daily newspaper in Burlington has been sold (again), the fifth change in ownership over the past decade.

The newspaper trade publication Editor & Publisher first reported the sale earlier this month, with a focus on three eastern North Carolina newspapers owned by the same company, Gannett, that are a part of the sale – The New Bern Sun Journal, Jacksonville Daily News, and Kinston Free Press.

Elsewhere in the story, it is mentioned that the sale from Gannett to Kentucky-based Paxton Media Group will also include the The Courier-Tribune of Asheboro, The Dispatch of Lexington, and The Times-News of Burlington.

The sale of the six newspapers continues a revolving door of sales of small- and mid-size daily newspapers to corporate media conglomerates across the country.

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For several years, the six newspapers involved in the latest sale were owned by California-based Freedom Communications; then in June 2012, they were all part of the company’s sale to Florida-based Halifax Media.

Two-and-a-half years later, in January 2015, the same papers were part of the parent company’s sale to New York-based GateHouse Media Group.

In 2019, GateHouse reached an agreement to merge with Gannett, the country’s largest media company which owns USA Today and is the publisher of  newspapers and other media outlets in 45 states.

Over the past two years, Gannett has sold 82 papers, many of which have been bought by Paxton.

Editor & Publisher and The New York Times both reported earlier this fall that Gannett had also notified employees across the country that the company would require its employees to take unpaid leave in December, offer voluntary buyouts, and temporarily suspend 401(k) contribution matches.  Gannett will also freeze hiring except for crucial positions.  That followed another round of lay-offs in August, totaling 400 to 500 employees, according to multiple news sources.

Paxton, meanwhile, owns 115 newspapers in 10 Southern and Midwestern states.  Other North Carolina newspapers that were initially bought by Paxton include The Durham Morning Herald (which has subsequently been sold in 2016 to McClatchy Newspapers, that owns The News & Observer in Raleigh), The Henderson Daily Dispatch, The Sanford Herald, The Monroe Enquirer-Journal,  The Lenoir News-Topic, The Daily Courier in Forest City, and The Daily Herald in Roanoke Rapids.

Paxton Media Group has announced that the sale is scheduled to take effect December 1.

Like many small- and mid-size daily newspapers, The Times-News has struggled with broad circulation declines.  In figures filed with the U.S. Postal Service in October, the newspaper listed 3,883 as its total distribution most recently, down 64.6 percent from (10,975) four years earlier.

The Alamance News circulation increased by 24.3 percent, to 3,543, during that same four-year time period.

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