|Photo from The Messenger, Fort Dodge, Iowa|
Residents of Calhoun County, Iowa, were greeted last week with two different issues of the Lake City Graphic-Advocate last week, "each with the familiar purple masthead, but each with a different publisher," Kelby Wingert reports
for The Messenger
in Fort Dodge. "Both Chris Nelson of Nelson Media Co.
and Matt Grohe of Mid-America Publishing
believe they are the rightful owners. . . . In addition to two printed newspapers, there are also now two Facebook pages and websites for The Graphic-Advocate, each under the control of a different publisher."
Mid-America, based in Hampton, has published the weekly for 15 years. "On April 26, Grohe wrote a letter on The Graphic-Advocate’s Facebook page explaining that the newspaper had been losing money for years — including $18,000 in 2021 — and that he was 'exploring options' for the business," WIngert reports. "Nelson said in April, Grohe had reached out to him to see if he was interested in buying The Graphic-Advocate at that time, but negotiations didn’t go well."
Kendra Breitsprecher, owner and publisher of The Dayton Leader
, said she signed an agreement to buy the paper May 26, and took control June 1. "She published four issues and was listed as the owner/publisher on the newspaper’s masthead on all four issues, she said. Mid-America Publishing continued to do the printing, After about a month of owning the newspaper, Breitsprecher agreed to sell it to Nelson. . . . After Nelson took over on July 6, Grohe and Mid-America Publishing sent cease-and-desist letters to both Breitsprecher and Nelson, telling them both to stop doing business as The Graphic-Advocate.
Grohe told Wingert, “The agreement fell apart between Mid-America Publishing and the Dayton Leader, and Mid-America informed the Dayton Leader that they were revoking the agreement. The Dayton Leader agreement had not closed — there were closing conditions in the agreement that had not been met.”
Nelson disputes that. He said in an open letter posted Thursday that Grohe failed to hand over "key assets" such as postal permits, post-office box keys and access to online platforms, Nelson Media Company said in an open letter posted on Thursday, but he and Grohe "had a message they wanted to share with readers and subscribers," Wingert reports.
|Lake City in Calhoun County (Wikipedia)|
“We apologize for any confusion, and we’re working steadily toward a resolution,” Grohe said.
“We are going to keep the Graphic-Advocate open,” Nelson said. “We care and we want what’s best for small communities and small-town journalism.”
"For now, it appears both publishers will continue to print their versions of The Graphic-Advocate," Wingert wriites, "with neither backing down."