Friday, December 09, 2022

News-media roundup: Kansas' Hayneses sell their papers; Gannett sells Iowa paper that's challenged by a startup; Cherry Road sells editor paper it bought from Rust in March

Cynthia and Steve Haynes tell their staff about the sale of their newspapers in a video
conference call with one of the buyers, Jesse Mullen, at left. (Photo from The Oberlin Herald)

Brothers Jesse and Lloyd Mullen of Mullen Newspapers have bought six community newspapers in northwestern Kansas from Steve and Cynthia Haynes, longtime industry leaders who are retiring at 74: The Oberlin Herald, the Colby Free Press, the Bird City Times, The Goodland Star-News, The Norton Star-Telegram and The St. Francis Herald, as well as The Country Advocate shopper. Steve Haynes was a nephew of William Allen White, the renowned publisher of The Emporia Gazette. He and Cynthia reflect on 42 years of community newspapering here.

Gannett Co.
has sold the Burlington Hawk Eye to an affiliate of Community Media Group of West Frankfort, Ill., which has about 40 papers, stretching from Iowa to western New York, including nearby Fort Madison and Keokuk, Iowa, and Carthage, Ill. As the Hawk Eye declined under Gannett, the Burlington Beacon started up, and owner Jeff Allen tells The Rural Blog that its print circulation "is 2,500 and growing each week. We continue to sell out on the newsstand, and we're looking at adding days of publication." UPDATE, March 4: The Hawk Eye hawks itself.

Meanwhile, the decline continues at Gannett's St. Cloud Times, reports Axios Twin Cities: "As of Wednesday, the Times listed just three journalists — all reporters — on its staff page. As recently as 2014, the newsroom had 36 employees, and just a few months ago it listed nine staff." The St. Cloud metropolitan area has 200,000 people but no TV stations, limited radio news and two small weeklies, said St. Cloud University Department of Mass Communication Chair Dale Zacher, who called the Times a "ghost newspaper . . . a shell of its former self." He told Axios that there is little coverage of local government meetings and features about the community.

Kyle, Elizabeth, Olivia and Jordan Troutman (Prairie Photography)
Cherry Road Media
, which has bought several Gannett papers, is selling The Cassville Democrat in Missouri to its editor, Kyle Troutman, and his wife Jordan, a reporter and a native of the area. "The Cassville Democrat has been corporately owned since 2004, and on Jan. 1, 2023, the 151-year-old publication will once again be locally owned," it announced. Cape Girardeau-based Rust Communications had owned it until March, when it was sold to CherryRoad. CEO Jeremy Gulban, said that when heard a young couple in Nebraska describe buying their hometown paper, “I realized that local ownership, when possible, is really the right answer for small community newspapers. Traditionally, this had been the model but it has not been utilized lately because of a lack of motivated, younger people who are willing to take on the challenge. I looked around our portfolio of newspapers and saw that the Cassville Democrat was a good fit for this model with Kyle and Jordan.”

UPDATE, Dec. 29: Cherry Road sold two other former Rust papers in the Ozarks to local owners: the Carroll County News and the Lovely County Citizen in northern Arkansas. The latter will be online only. The buyers are Managing Editor Scott Loftis, photogtrapher David Bell and former Berryville Chamber of Commerce director Bruce Johnson.

Western Kentucky newspapers are publishing special editions to mark the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes that devastated several towns, the Kentucky Press Association reports. And KPA has scheduled a session at its convention on Jan. 27 on planning for disasters.

Longtime Kentucky sportswriter Keith Taylor became news editor of The Berea Citizen, then the weekly's publisher, and now he's the local volunteer of the year. He reflects on his recent career

A survey in Great Britain suggests that people don't trust the news industry because they don't understand it. About half said they didn't trust the news media, and only 39% trusted journalists. But that result was correlated with ow levels of news literacy: the ability to critically process, analyze and evaluate news. Respondents were especially unsure about how decisions are made in newsrooms, how editorial standards are applied and how regulation works," Aisha Majid reports for the Press Gazette.

Also from the U.K.: Five tips for increasing reader engagement and loyalty.

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