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The era of the independent and locally-owned community newspaper in Louisa County has ended. Lakeway Publishers Inc., of Morristown, Tennessee, has purchased The CV Corporation of Virginia’s three-newspaper group, “The Central Virginian,” “The Goochland Courier” and the “Herald-Progress.”

The acquisition was announced to employees on December 20, though terms of the deal were not disclosed. Cribb, Greene & Associates of Charlottesville represented the CV Corporation in the December 26 transaction, which becomes effective on January 1.

Lakeway’s publication portfolio is centered in Tennessee and Missouri. However, the company has aggressively pushed into Virginia during the past six months. In July, Lakeway acquired its first four Virginia newspapers, “The Caroline Progress,” “Northumberland Echo,” “Northern Neck News,” and “Westmoreland News.” The diversified media corporation now owns a total of 24 newspapers and six specialty magazines, including “The Civil War Courier,” “The Camp Chase Gazette” and “The Citizens Companion.”

Lakeway employs more than 400 people, and counts among its holdings seven other corporate divisions, including printing and technology service providers.

“We are pleased that the board of the CV Corporation of Virginia chose Lakeway to carry on the rich traditions of community journalism in these three communities,” R. Jack Fishman, president of Lakeway, said Thursday. Lakeway began in 1966 as the “Citizen Tribune,” a daily and Sunday newspaper in Morristown. Fishman served as publisher-editor of the paper for more than 40 years. “We stress for each of our newspapers to be independent in reporting the news and activities of their communities,” Fishman said. “We believe that each of our newspapers is an integral part of their community and must work with other community leaders to build up its institutions to provide a good quality of life for all of our citizens. Community newspapers write about people in the community and what is happening in it. They are a part of what they write.”

Fishman is a former chairman of the National Newspaper Association.

Leadership changes

Cathy Collins, publisher of the three-newspaper group and member of the CV Corporation’s board of directors, has announced her retirement, effective December 31. “It’s been a very satisfying and rewarding career, and I’ve worked with so many wonderful people,” Collins said of her 32 years of service. “Naturally, it’s difficult to leave, but I’m pleased that Lakeway Publishers emphasizes the community connection as much as we do. I look forward to seeing them guide our papers to the next level.” Collins will assist in the ownership transfer as a consultant during the month of January.

Steve Weddle, former editor and general manager of the Northern Neck newspaper group, has been named the new publisher of “The Central Virginian” and “The Goochland Courier.”

Deana Meredith will continue as the editor of “The Central Virginian.” “It’s been a real pleasure working for the CV board,” said Meredith, who has served more than 10 years with the company. “This industry is in an era of rampant consolidation, and we’re glad that, if the papers had to be sold, they were sold to a company that will continue to prioritize the community in community journalism.”

William B. Trimble, former CEO and president of The CV Corporation of Virginia, will return to the area to become the publisher of the “Herald-Progress,” located in Ashland. “I’m excited about the opportunity to be involved with these newspapers again,” Trimble said. “They have a great tradition of strong community journalism, and, with Lakeway’s resources, they will continue to provide that excellent service as they grow and prosper.” Trimble will continue as Lakeway’s vice-president of Virginia operations and publisher of the Northern Neck newspaper group.

He expressed confidence in Weddle, an award-winning editor and columnist. “Steve brings a wealth of editorial experience along with a good understanding of the business side of newspapers,” Trimble said. “The future of ‘The Central Virginian’ and ‘The Goochland Courier’ look very bright under his leadership.”

Lakeway’s other corporate heads include Jeffrey Fishman, vice-president of newspapers in middle Tennessee, and Michael Fishman, corporate secretary/treasurer.

The CV Corporation

“The Central Virginian” was established in 1912, and is the newspaper of record in Louisa and Fluvanna counties. The weekly paper has been owned and operated by the local corporation’s board of directors since 1989, and its total weekly circulation in the two counties and around Lake Anna exceeds 8,500.

In January 2002, The CV Corporation of Virginia established “The Goochland Courier.” The current circulation of Goochland’s “newspaper of choice” is approximately 2,400.

The “Herald-Progress,” which is distributed to approximately 6,300 homes in Ashland and throughout Hanover County, was purchased by The CV Corporation in 2005.

G. B. Duke, chairman of the CV Corporation of Virginia’s board of directors, expressed his gratitude to the employees of the company. “Our employees have treated the papers like their own,” Duke said. “We have been fortunate from start to finish to have people that care and produce an excellent, excellent paper every week.”

Board members believe that Lakeway will be a good match to build on the successes of the growing company, Duke added. “It looks like these folks are a better fit for our employees, our advertisers and our communities than anyone else I’ve seen out there,” he said.

Hilda Miller, long-time publisher and current Publisher Emeritus of “The Central Virginian,” said that change was inevitable. “I knew it was coming sometime or another. I guess it had to come,” Miller said. “The directors I’ve talked to feel this is the best company to sell to, and they put in clauses to keep it local and keep the CV name.”

She added that the 1989 formation of the CV Corporation of Virginia helped extend the era of independent local ownership of the community’s primary news and information source. “It was on the verge of being sold before, and by getting the local businesses involved, we were able to keep it locally owned,” she explained. “I wish the new owners a lot of luck. It does take a lot of luck…to run a newspaper.”

Cribb, Greene & Associates is an eighty-four year old newspaper brokerage company with offices in Charlottesville, Virginia and Bozeman, Montana.

Published December 27, 2007

Louisa, VA