Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Paxton sells Durham Herald-Sun to McClatchy; it's the buyer's first newspaper purchase in a decade

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The McClatchy Co., in some ways the poster child for the troubles of its trade in the last 10 years, "made its first newspaper purchase in a decade Wednesday, announcing it has acquired The Herald-Sun of Durham, N.C," Dale Kasler reports for The Sacramento Bee, McClatchy's headquarters paper.

The purchase was made, at an undisclosed price, from Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Ky., which owns five smaller papers in North Carolina. Paxton bought The Herald-Sun in 2004, making it by far the largest paper in its family-owned chain, but it no longer holds that title, as its circulation is less than half the 50,000 it reported in 2003. But it offers synergy for McClatchy, which "already owns the News & Observer in nearby Raleigh, along with the Charlotte Observer and five papers in South Carolina," Kasler notes. News & Observer Publisher Sara Glines will oversee the Durham paper.

"McClatchy hadn’t bought any newspapers since its blockbuster 2006 takeover of Knight-Ridder Inc.," Kasler notes. "That acquisition left the company deeply in debt just as the newspaper industry entered a significant downturn. While it has made some digital investments in recent years, McClatchy has spent much of its spare cash in the past decade paying down its debt while navigating the difficult transition to a digital-first media world."

"I am excited and optimistic," Herald-Sun Editor Bob Ashley wrote in a column. "Our new owners are a news company widely respected by journalists and with a reputation for assiduously serving its markets. In part because several years ago they acquired Knight-Ridder, a group for which I worked for 16 years, six as an editor, I know the reputation of many of its papers and some of their leaders." For the Herald-Sun's story on the sale, click here.

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