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GateHouse Sold Conway Paper to Paxton, Former Publisher Says in Post

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The Log Cabin Democrat in Conway has been sold by GateHouse Media to Paxton Media Group of Paducah, Kentucky, according to the paper’s group publisher until Friday, Kelly Sublett.

Sublett, who had hinted last week that a sale was in the works, announced Monday on her Facebook page that the paper “was sold abruptly last week to Paxton Media. My job and four others were eliminated. Friday was my last day.” Arkansas Business, which reported in its Monday print edition early word of the sale, could not immediately reach Sublett to confirm her post.

(Update, June 4, 2019: The Log Cabin Democrat reports news of the sale, which includes weekly newspapers in Clinton, Heber Springs and Newport.)

Paxton, which owns about 40 newspapers in several states and a TV station in Paducah, has the Russellville Courier, the Jonesboro Sun, the Batesville Guard the Daily Citizen in Searcy and the Paragould Press in Arkansas.

Sublett’s post said the publisher of the Russellville paper, David Meadows, “will now split time with Conway.” Meadows was out of Russellville on Monday morning, and Max Brantley of Arkansas Times reported he was in Conway.

The Log Cabin was one of four GateHouse papers said to be involved in the transaction. GateHouse, a publicly traded company based in suburban Rochester, New York, is the nation’s largest newspaper chain by number of publications, and was reported last week to be in merger discussions with the second largest U.S. chain, Gannett Co. of McLean, Virginia.

The other three papers involved in the deal are said to be the Heber Springs Sun-Times, the Newport Independent and the Van Buren County Democrat in Clinton. (Early preliminary reports mentioned the Van Buren Press Argus-Courier, but that GateHouse paper appears to have been confused with the Clinton paper, which is in Van Buren County.) Sublett was also publisher of the Heber Springs and Clinton newspapers. GateHouse Group Publisher Jennifer Allen said by email to Arkansas Business on Friday that a sale announcement was “not quite yet” ready.

GateHouse will still have about a dozen Arkansas properties, including the Pine Bluff Commercial and the Southwest Times Record in Fort Smith, the state’s second-largest city.

The sale would be the second in less than two years for the Log Cabin. GateHouse bought the paper and 10 other dailies from Morris Communications of Augusta, Georgia, in August 2017.

The Log Cabin had a circulation of 3,925 on weekdays and about 5,300 on Sundays in 2017, according to figures from the Arkansas Press Association.

Sublett said in her post that the loss of her job “had nothing to do with me,” calling it a corporate “swap.”

“I’m saddened that I cannot continue the work I feel like I was born to do,” she added. “I’ve always been a part of newsrooms, deadlines and even in the toughest times for my industry, something incredible.” She asked for prayers for the Log Cabin staff during the transition. “And please continue to support your local newspaper.”
The Facebook posting was first reported by the Arkansas Times.
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