Paxton Media Group buys Sandusky Newspaper properties in Tennessee, Michigan


Paxton Media Group expanded its already extensive newspaper portfolio with the acquisition of two dailies and affiliated community papers from Sandusky Newspapers Inc.

Paxton bought the daily Lebanon(Tennessee)Democrat, a daily along with related weekly newspapers in Mt. Juliet and Hartsville, The Grand (Michigan)Haven Tribune, a daily, from Sandusky Newspapers Inc.

Randy Cope of Cribb, Greene & Cope, a merger and acquisition firm with offices in Virginia, Arkansas, Montana, and California, represented Sandusky in the transactions. 

Paducah, Kentucky-based family-owned Paxton Media publishes daily and weekly newspapers in more than 50 communities in the Midwest and South, including papers near its most recent acquisitions in Portland and Lafayette, Tennessee, and The Herald-Palladium in St. Joseph, Michigan.

"This business combination provides the financial security needed to assure the Lebanon Democrat, the Mt. Juliet Newsand the

Hartsville Videttewill continue to serve their communities long into the future," David Paxton, president and chief executive officer of Paxton Media Group, said of the Tennessee purchase. 

The sale was jointly announced to the newspaper staff by Doug Phares, president of Sandusky Newspaper Group, and Mike Weafer, publisher of Paxton's Messenger-Inquirerin Owensboro, Kentucky.

"I am excited to have the Lebanon Democrat, the Mt. Juliet Newsand the Hartsville Videttein my group," Weafer said. "The strong foundation they have built in their communities has made them a natural fit for PMG. Being the primary source of news, a strong partner with our advertisers and the local business community, a watchdog when needed, and a bright light to shine upon all that is good in our communities are things we strive for every day. These papers have established a strong foundation for doing just that, and building upon that foundation will be our priority."

In the transaction, Paxton acquired Lebanon Publishing's websites and digital operations and the newspaper's office building in downtown Lebanon. 

"Selling the paper was a difficult decision for me and my family," said David Rau, CEO of Sandusky Newspapers Inc. "Ultimately we decided that the tremendous changes in the media business over the past generation required much more scale than we could give it. The community and our audience could be better served by a larger company with more resources. We were fortunate to be able to turn the papers over to another family company with a proven legacy and reputation for coverage of local news. I believe Paxton will be good stewards over the long term." 

Rau said the sale of the Grand Haven and Lebanon operations leaves Sandusky with two newspapers in the Ohio group, two daily newspapers and three weeklies in its Northeastern Tennessee group, and interests in a variety of digital operations. He added the company is exploring strategic options in connection with a possible sale of the Ohio group.

"Our newspapers and digital operations in Northeastern Tennessee are our largest, and they are not for sale." Rau said.

The Grand Haven sale was jointly announced to the newspaper staff Friday by Rau and David Holgate, PMG Community Newsgroup LLC Group president.

"I am excited to have The Grand Haven Tribune and its affiliated properties join our group in Michigan and Indiana," Holgate said. "The synergies that will be created will provide tremendous stability to this newspaper and its employees. And adding another market on the coast of Lake Michigan provides opportunities for collaborative efforts."

In the transaction, Paxton acquired the Tribune’s website and digital operations, the West Michigan News Reviewand the newspaper's office building in downtown Grand Haven.