Reprinted with by permission of The Daily Reflector, November, 2001
Friday, December 1, 1995
The Whichard family, owners of The Daily Reflector since its founding in 1882, and Cox Newspapers Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., have reached an agreement in principle for Cox to acquire The Daily Reflector and nine eastern North Carolina community newspapers.
The proposed transaction was announced jointly Thursday by D. Jordan Whichard III, president and publisher of The Daily Reflector, and Jay Smith, president of Cox Newspapers. Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The acquisition is expected to be completed early next year.
Whichard will remain as publisher of The Daily Reflector and will continue to have overall responsibility for the affiliated publications.
"We are pleased to be joining forces with Cox to offer our readers, advertisers and employees the added benefits of Cox's expertise in the newspaper industry," Whichard said. He cited Cox's high standards for journalism, community stewardship and employee relations as important elements in the family's decision to select Cox as the new owner.
Smith commented, "We look forward to extending the Whichard family's tradition of service to our new readers and advertisers. The Daily Reflector will be a fine addition to our group of daily newspapers, and the acquisition will more than double our number of weeklies."
"The Whichard family began publishing in 1882 just 16 years before Cox was founded with a single newspaper in Dayton, Ohio," Smith said. "Both have remained private; both have been led by family members. The result is that the two companies not only have similar foundations, but share a similar set of values."
In addition to The Daily Reflector, Cox will acquire The Times-Leader (Ayden-Grifton); The Beaufort-Hyde News (Belhaven); The Chowan Herald (Edenton); The Farmville Enterprise; The Duplin Times/Duplin Today (Kenansville); The Weekly Herald (Robersonville); The Standard Laconic (Snow Hill); The Enterprise (Williamston); The Bertie Ledger-Advance (Windsor), and several free distribution and specialty publications.
In a statement to employees, Whichard said he anticipated no layoffs, reductions in employee benefits or significant changes in employee-related practices as a result of the sale.
"For the family owners, this was a difficult, emotional decision to sell after 113 years of family ownership," The Daily Reflector Chairman David J. Whichard II said in a statement. "Looking forward, however, it is absolutely the correct decision for our newspapers, their readers and the communities they serve.
"Changes taking place in the communications industry make it highly unlikely we could effectively maintain our independent family ownership beyond the next decade. The continued rapid growth in this area will place increasing demands on our newspapers to maintain and enhance their high quality service to all our constituencies. With that in mind, it seems to us for many reasons this is the time to face squarely that reality, while we may choose the successor owner," Whichard said.
"In Cox, we have a strong diversified information company that is firmly founded in newspapers, and dedicated to their excellence. It is an excellent fit for our newspapers to join with a much larger family owned company with the strongest and best of newspaper traditions," he said.
Cox is the nation's ninth largest circulation newspaper company, whose 18 daily papers and six weeklies include The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Dayton Daily News, The Austin (Texas) American-Statesman, and The Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. The company's other newspapers are located in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Texas.
Cox Enterprises, the parent company, is a major media company with four subsidiaries and a number of investments in related businesses and new media technology. In addition to newspapers, the company also is a leader in the broadband communications/cable, broadcasting and auto auction industries.
Dirks, Van Essen & Associates, a newspaper merger and acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, represents the Whichard family in the transaction.
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