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Sentinel, Lufkin Daily News sold to Southern Newspapers

Posted: Tuesday, July 1, 2008 1:00 am | Updated: 2:15 pm, Tue Jun 4, 2013.

Cox Enterprises, owner of The Daily Sentinel and The Lufkin Daily News, has sold the Newspapers to Houston-based Southern Newspapers Inc., ending year-long speculation about the fate of the papers that began when they were put up for sale last August. In a meeting with Sentinel staff Thursday morning, Southern Newspapers Vice President Dolph Tillotson told employees that new ownership will be effective Monday but that business would continue as usual. No personnel changes are planned and Karla DeLuca retains her position as editor and publisher. Tillotson emphasized the company's dedication to strong community journalism and local decision making, noting The Sentinel's numerous recently-won journalism awards. Readers of the paper will notice no immediate changes, Tillotson said, and editorial and business decisions will continue to be made locally. "We plan no immediate changes either in staffing or in editorial content ... we don't come here with a grand plan that we're going to change everything," Tillotson said. While DeLuca will remains editor and publisher of The Sentinel, Kerrville Daily Times Editor and Publisher Greg Shrader will assume the position as publisher of the Lufkin Daily News, replacing publisher Tim Hobbs. All other jobs will remain intact, Tillotson said. Representatives from Cox Newspapers were on hand to make the announcement. In an interview following the announcement, DeLuca said readers can expect the same quality product and the same dedication to community service as they have always received. "Some of the metros and larger papers have been struggling, but we really have not," DeLuca said. "We really haven't experienced any of the problems that the larger metros have experienced. Our circulation is steady, our revenue is steady, and we've got a great product, and I think that's why we were attractive in the market." Reached by telephone, Shrader, who assumes leadership of the Lufkin Newspaper on Monday, said he was pleased to add both papers to the Southern Newspaper family. "I think this purchase shows that we believe there is a future in community Newspapers, and we want to take and build on the successes of both Lufkin and Nacogdoches," Shrader said. Staff took their time reacting to News of the sale. News Editor Debi Ryan, a longtime employee of the Newspaper, described SNI's purchase of the Sentinel as "a positive." Columnist Judy Morgan said Tillotson's presentation went very smoothly, while Karen Standridge, another long-time veteran of the Newsroom, said she was pleased with Southern Newspapers' emphasis on local identity. "The Newspaper is very important to this community and that is their emphasis," she said. "It is the voice that this community has." The Daily Sentinel and The Lufkin Daily News were the first Cox Newspapers to sell after several in the chain were put up for sale last year. Tillotson declined to reveal the sale price. The Daily Sentinel will become the fourth-largest Newspaper in the Southern Newspapers chain, and The Lufkin Daily News will be the second-largest, behind The Galveston County Daily News. Southern Newspapers, a private publishing company, owns 14 Newspapers in Texas, Alabama and Georgia, including the Galveston County Daily News along with the Bay City Tribune, the Baytown Sun, the Brazosport Facts, the Del Rio News-Herald, Fort Payne Ala. Times-Journal, the Kerrville Daily Times, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, the Paris News, the Sand Mountain Reporter in Albertville, Ala., the Scottsboro Ala. Daily Sentinel, the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, the Walton Tribune in Monroe, Ga. and the Weekly Post in Rainsville, Ala..

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