Salisbury Post and Davie papers for sale
The Salisbury Post is for sale.
Evening Post Industries announced Tuesday that the company is seeking a buyer for its North Carolina newspapers, including the Post and weekly newspapers in Mocksville and Clemmons.
Based in Charleston, S.C., EPI has owned the Post, The Davie County Enterprise Record and The Clemmons Courier since 1997.
The move is part of a gradual change in direction for EPI, according to CEO John Barnwell.
“Evening Post Industries currently derives most of its revenue from broadcast television and newspaper operations,” Barnwell said. “We are in the process of diversifying into other business segments, and the proposed sale of these media assets represents the natural progression of our strategic plans.”
Last year, EPI sold The Eagle newspaper in Bryan College Station, Texas, which it also purchased in the 1990s. The buyer was The Omaha World-Herald Co., owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
EPI bought the Salisbury Post from the Hurley family of Salisbury, which had owned the newspaper since 1912.
“We have enjoyed a long and prosperous relationship with our business partners in the greater Salisbury area,” Barnwell said. “The Salisbury Post and its weekly affiliates have a long history of excellence in journalism and leadership within the communities they serve. We look forward to their continued success under new ownership.”
He declined to discuss the price-tag of the business.
Post Publisher Greg Anderson said he understood the strategy behind selling the paper, “but I’m sad to leave Evening Post Industries. They’ve been a wonderful company to be a part of.”
Meanwhile, it’s business as usual for the Post, Anderson said — “full speed ahead.”
“Our future is great,” he said. “Audience is larger than ever. We deliver content in so many ways now. And readers are really responding, whether in print, online, mobile or through social media, we have seen phenomenal audience growth.”
More than 61,000 Rowan County adults read the printed Salisbury Post at least once a week, 58 percent of the county’s adults, according to data from independent researchers.
“This year we never let up on making advancements in our business,” Anderson said. “We’ve installed a new content management system for our website and mobile delivery and a new circulation system software. ...”
Dozens of newspapers in North Carolina have gone through ownership changes in the past two years. In May 2012, Buffett’s BH Media subsidiary announced it would buy 63 U.S. dailies and weeklies from Media General Inc. for $142 million. The deal included the Independent Tribune in Concord, the Record & Landmark in Statesville, the Mooresville Tribune, the Hickory Daily News and the Winston-Salem Journal.
Halifax Media has bought North Carolina newspapers formerly owned by both the New York Times Regional Newspaper Group — such as The Dispatch in Lexington and The StarNews in Wilmington — and by Freedom Communications — including the Gaston Gazette, the Burlington Times-News and others.
Anderson said he was optimistic about the Post’s future.
“There are investors out there who are excited about the newspaper business,” he said. “We have a lot to be excited about in this market. Since our printing contract with USA TODAY expired last year, we’ve added $500,000 in new commercial printing business. Our digital services offerings are soaring. Revenue has grown $600,000 since 2008.
“I’d like to see a buyer who will take advantage of our manufacturing capacity and our digital marketing capabilities.”
The Post’s commercial printing clients include a newspaper that publishes six days a week, another that publishes three days a week and 30 other weeklies and monthlies.
Anderson said the right buyer for the Post could be described many ways, and that buyer will come from an approved list.
“What is important is that they recognize what they are acquiring is the collective capabilities of a very talented and dedicated group of people.”
The Post’s news staff won the most awards from the N.C. Press Association in its circulation division this year, as it has many years. The 23 awards included 12 first-place honors and second-place in General Excellence.
The newspaper’s website, www.salisburypost.com, attracts more than 2.5 million page views a month as subscribers follow breaking news throughout the day, comment on stories, use archives and view photo galleries and videos. Mobile-phone use of the site and of the Post’s mobile app increasing rapidly, and the news staff has nearly tripled its social media audience in 2013,
Evening Post Industries has engaged Cribb, Greene & Associates, a leading newspaper brokerage consultant, to assist with the transaction.
EPI’s remaining dailies are The Post and Courier in Charleston and the Aiken Standard. It also owns several weekly newspapers in South Carolina and a number of television stations across the country.