Paxton Media Group expands footprint with purchase of Tennessee, Michigan, Indiana papers

Paxton Media Group has purchased the Lebanon Democrat, a daily newspaper in Lebanon, TN, along with weekly newspapers in Mt. Juliet and Hartsville, TN. Paxton Media is a family-­owned company headquartered in Paducah.

The announcement came just a few weeks after Paxton purchased The Rochester Sentinel in Indiana from owner and publisher Sarah O. Wilson, according to John Thomas Cribb of merger and acquisitions firm Cribb, Greene & Cope, who represented the Wilson family in the sale. The sale was effective May 1.

The company publishes daily and weekly newspapers in more than 50 communities in the Midway and South, including nearby papers in Portland and Lafayette, TN.

“This business combination provides the financial security needed to assure the Lebanon Democrat, the Mt. Juliet News and the Hartsville Vidette will continue to serve their communities long into the future,” said David Paxton, president and chief executive officer of Paxton Media Group.

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-Inquirer in Owensboro. “I am excited to have the Lebanon Democrat, the Mt. Juliet News and the Hartsville Vidette in my group,” Weafer said.

Paxton has 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. Paxton also acquired from Sandusky The Grand Haven Tribune in Grand Haven, Mich. 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 TN 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 TN are our largest, and they are not for sale,” Rau said.

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