Three eastern North Carolina newspapers will be under new ownership beginning Dec. 1 after being acquired by a family-owned media company.
The New Bern Sun Journal, Jacksonville Daily News, and Kinston Free Press, which are currently owned by Gannett, have been acquired by Paxton Media Group based out of Paducah, Kentucky.
Also included in the sale are the Times-News of Burlington, The Courier-Tribune of Asheboro, and The Dispatch of Lexington.
Previously under Freedom Communications, the newspapers were sold to Halifax Media in June 2012. GateHouse Media Group purchased the papers in January 2015 and in 2019, it was announced that New Media Investment Group, the parent company of GateHouse Media had reached an agreement to merge Gannett into GateHouse.
The three newspapers have operated under the Gannett/USA Today Network since that time.
Paxton Media Group is operated by fourth- and fifth-generation Paxton family members. The group owns more than 100 newspapers throughout the Southeast and Midwest.
In the past few years, Paxton has acquired properties in Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee and Indiana. Paxton currently operates several newspapers across North Carolina, including The Daily Dispatch (Henderson), The Sanford Herald, The Enquirer-Journal (Monroe), News-Topic (Lenoir), The Daily Courier (Forest City), The Daily Herald (Roanoke Rapids) and The High Point Enterprise. There also are several weekly newspapers in the division.
In a meeting with staff members on Friday, Gannett leadership stressed that Paxton will be a good home for these North Carolina newspapers, especially since Paxton understands markets of eastern North Carolina’s size.
“We are excited to add these newspapers to our growing portfolio in North Carolina,” said Jamie Paxton, PMG president, and CEO. “PMG believes strongly in the value of local newspapers and the vital role they play in the communities that they serve. We appreciate being chosen to be the new stewards of these important community assets and intend to work hard to maintain the trust that these publications have earned over their long and storied history.”
Paxton leadership assured staff members that they believe strongly in newspapers and local journalism.
“We look forward to serving the readers and businesses in these communities,” said Jana Thomasson, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia Division President and Group Publisher. “We focus on local content and our goal is to add journalists for this purpose.”
As the local news editor for the newspaper in New Bern, Jacksonville and Kinston, I am excited about what is in store for the future of eastern North Carolina journalism.
These three eastern North Carolina newspapers have a long history of providing quality local journalism for readers. Without local journalism, issues that matter the most tend to die in the dark. Through hard work, determination and drive, we have helped to shine a light on those issues and will continue to under the new ownership.