Patrick Graham, who previously served as the managing editor of the Times-Journal from 1996 to 2000, has bought the Fort Payne, Alabama newspaper and its related products from the Walls family and Southern Newspapers Inc. of Houston, Texas.
Southern, which continues to own and operate 12 newspapers in Texas and Oklahoma, had owned the Times-Journal since 1956.
In the transaction, Graham also acquired The Jackson County Sentinel in Scottsboro and the Sand Mountain Reporter in Albertville. All three papers publish three days a week.
Cribb, Greene & Cope, under the direction of John Cribb and Senior Associate Jeffrey Potts, represented the seller in the transaction.
Graham also owns the Walton Tribune, a twice-weekly newspaper in Monroe, Georgia, and The Covington News, a weekly newspaper in Covington, Georgia.
"I started my career in newspaper management right here in Fort Payne and DeKalb County," Graham said in the sales announcement. "I have so many great personal and professional memories associated with my family's time in this tremendous community. I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to return to the area as the newspaper's owner and reconnect with old friends, make new ones and work hard on behalf of both in order to uphold the legacy of community service and quality local journalism established at the Times-Journal by the Walls Family and Southern for so many years."
Lissa W. Walls, chairman and owner of Southern Newspapers, said the company has a 63-year association with Fort Payne and DeKalb County that has been enjoyable and profitable, and the company is very appreciative of that long-standing relationship.
"The opportunity to be stewards and managers of the newspaper in Fort Payne has been a privilege and responsibility Southern Newspapers and the Walls family has taken seriously," Walls said.
"As a native of Guntersville, my interest and concern for Northeast Alabama runs deep. I am pleased the ownership transition is from one family and community focused operator to another,” she added. “Patrick Graham is an experienced and proven newspaper operator. His history of living and working in Northeast Alabama make him ideally suited to lead DeKalb County into a bright future."
"Simply put, I want to put out the very best newspaper of its size in the state of Alabama. The kind of newspaper that readers will absolutely have to pick up because they feel like they might be missing something if they don't," Graham said. "We have a community that deserves that kind of quality coverage, and we have the kind of staff that can deliver that kind of quality coverage."
Graham is a 28-year veteran of the newspaper industry. He spent 17 of those years with Southern, the last 11 operating newspapers of various sizes as publisher. He purchased his first newspaper, the Walton Tribune, in 2014, and his second, The Covington News, in 2017. He had previously spent six years, from 2003 to 2009, as the publisher at the Tribune.