How many independently/individually-owned weeklies in Kentucky? Depends on your definition and what you want the answer to be

Al Cross and I have had this discussion before: How many weekly newspapers in Kentucky are independently owned?

The answer is: What’s your definition of independently owned? Yeah, I know that’s answering a question with a question but that has to be the first answer.

I’m not sure Al would agree but for some reason I’ve always used three newspapers or less as being independently owned. Take Earl Kinner. I don’t think he considers his operation a chain or corporately-owned, even though he has three newspapers. Same with Teresa Hatfield-Barger and her two; or Andy Anderson with two. Patsy Judd used to fall into that three or fewer base until she sold the two Russell Springs papers a couple of years ago to Jeff Jobe.

And therein lies another issue. Would you consider Jeff Jobe, or James and Jay Nolan with the Nolan Group, or Melissa Mitchell as corporations/chains or as individuals? Well, they each own more than three so in one sense you have to throw them into the other group. Then again, I don’t think any of them would classify their group as a “chain” in the usual sense of that term.

The question came up Monday so I went through the directory, telling the individual beforehand that probably 45 percent of the weeklies were independently/individually-owned.

I gave him two answers:

• 51 of the weeklies in the state are independently-owned  if the cutoff point is three newspapers are fewer

• factor in owners such as Jeff Jobe, Jay/James Nolan and the Nolan Group, and Melissa Mitchell and it swells about 75 weekly newspapers.

I’ll let you use your own definition of independently-owned and you can go from there.

But one number we can all agree on: There are 120 weeklies in the state that have a periodicals class mailing permit and are considered full members of KPA.

“On second thought,” there are more weeklies to factor in. Those are our Associate Member Newspapers, the difference being they don’t have a periodicals class mailing permit. We have 19 of those and seven could fall under the independent/individually owned designation. Two of them are denomination/church-related: Western Recorder and Southeast Outlook. That leaves the Greater Ashland Beacon (Philip Stewart), Farmer’s Pride (Sharon Burton), Chevy Chaser Magazine/Business Lexington (Chuck Creacy, Chris Eddie) and Greenup Beacon (Hank Bond.

Melissa Mitchell’s name pops up on a few of those Associate Member Newspapers so perhaps we couldn’t consider her “independent/individual” under any definition.

Greg LeNeave owns Kentucky Publishing and has a few with, and a few without, a periodicals class mailing permit. Overall he owns 15 publications in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana and Illinois. I’d say that would qualify KPI as a corporate/chain operation.

The point is, “How many independently/individually owned newspapers are there in Kentucky?” is not simple to answer. There are several factors to take into consideration.

I do think Al and I would agree there’s one independently/individually/family-owned daily newspaper left — the Bowling Green Daily News.

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