© 2024 Blue Ridge Public Radio
Blue Ridge Mountains banner background
Your source for information and inspiration in Western North Carolina.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kentucky-based Paxton Media Group buys six North Carolina newspapers from Gannett

David Tabron, Jr., sells copies of the Sunday edition of the Burlington Times-News at the corners of South Williamson Avenue and South Church Street on Oct. 3, 2010.
Mary Yost
via Flickr | https://bit.ly/3ULVYL3
David Tabron, Jr., sells copies of the Sunday edition of the Burlington Times-News at the corners of South Williamson Avenue and South Church Street on Oct. 3, 2010.

Amidst another recent round of layoffs, Gannett has sold six of its North Carolina newspapers to a company based in Kentucky.

The sale to the Paxton Media Group — a 125-year-old family-owned media company stationed in Paducah, Kentucky — was announced with little fanfare in a press release just before Thanksgiving on Nov. 22. The six newspapers changing owners from Gannett to Paxton are the Burlington Times-News, the Asheboro Courier-Tribune, the Kinston Free Press, the New Bern Sun Journal, and The Daily News of Jacksonville.

Paxton began operating those six newspapers on Dec. 1.

“We are excited to add these newspapers to our growing portfolio in North Carolina,” Jamie Paxton, the president and CEO of PMG, said in a statement. “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.”

Terms of the sale were not disclosed by Dirks, Van Essen & April – a firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico that is representing Gannett in the transaction.

Paxton already owned and operated a handful of newspapers in North Carolina, including the High Point Enterprise, the Goldsboro News-Argus, and the Daily Herald in Roanoke Rapids. From 2004 to 2016, it owned the Durham Herald-Sun before selling it to McClatchy.

Across the country, Paxton owns more than 100 newspapers, most of them in the Midwest and Southeast.

The six North Carolina newspapers involved in the sale have changed hands often over the past decade. They were bought by Halifax Media in 2012 from California-based Freedom Communications, and then sold to GateHouse Media Group in 2015. In 2019, GateHouse merged with Gannett.

Gannett – the largest newspaper publisher in the U.S., in terms of daily circulation – still owns North Carolina newspapers in Fayetteville, Asheville, Wilmington, Gastonia, Shelby and Hendersonville. Gannett began another round of layoffs on Dec. 1.

According to Poynter, Gannett aimed to slash its news division by 6%, which figures to be about 200 layoffs. Henry Faure Walker, Gannett’s interim news division head, wrote to employees in an email in November that the company’s “news cost base is currently too high for the revenues it generates.”

Over the past two years, Gannett has sold off more than 80 of its newspapers.

Eight days after the sale, the newly owned Paxton newspapers in New Bern, Kinston and Jacksonville posted job openings for general assignment reporters on the North Carolina Press Association website.

Mitchell Northam is a Digital Producer for WUNC. His past work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SB Nation, the Orlando Sentinel and the Associated Press. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and is also a voter in the AP Top 25 poll for women's college basketball.