The Elizabethton (TN) Star daily newspaper and related printing and digital operations have been sold by the Robinson and Goodwin Families to partners of Boone Newspapers, Inc., according to Gary Greene, Cribb, Greene & Associates, who represented the sellers in the transaction. The Star is a 9,300 paid circulation daily newspaper serving Elizabethton and other areas in Northeastern Tennessee. The following story about the sale was published in the Star:
Today begins a new era for the Elizabethton Star, as Alabama-based Boone Newspapers Inc. and its newly formed affiliate, Elizabethton Newsmedia LLC, take over management of the community newspaper.
The change in ownership — from the Robinson and Goodwin families of Elizabethton to James B. Boone Jr., CEO and controlling stockholder of Boone Newspapers Inc., and other BNI partners Todd Carpenter and Tim Prince — is a grounded in longtime friendships. In fact, Boone calls Frank Robinson, who first became publisher of the Star in 1955 and bought the company in 1977, a “mentor and friend.”
Robinson oversaw decades of success at the Star before his death in 2011. His son, Charlie, had succeeded his father as publisher in 1980, but his own untimely death in 2004 saw Robinson return to the day-to-day operations at the newspaper he loved so much.
In 2007, Robinson named his grandson, Nathan Goodwin, publisher.
In August 2012, Goodwin assumed the position of chairman of the board and asked Mark A. Stevens, a family friend, Carter County native and longtime newspaperman, to become publisher. Stevens will continue to serve in that role under the new ownership.
In addition to the Star, Elizabethton Newsmedia will also oversee other Star publications and websites, such as Real Estate Monthly, Mountain Land & Homes and the company’s award-winning website, www.starhq.com. The Star is also a commercial printer for newspapers and magazines in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. Those operations will continue under the new ownership.
“Todd Carpenter and I appreciate the Robinson and Goodwin families who are entrusting us with the future of the Elizabethton Star and the people we will work with there in serving Elizabethton, Carter and Johnson counties and those whose publications the Star prints,” Boone said. “The late Frank Robinson was my mentor and friend beginning in the 1960s, when he invited me to spend several days at his home and office. I was a new publisher, struggling with many problems. The times with Frank at the office, and he and Ann and their family in their home, were important to me.
“He set important benchmarks for many of us by his management and leadership at the Star, and our company still follows those important standards. All grieved with these families in their early loss of Frank and Ann’s son, Charlie, who had succeeded Frank as publisher. We will work hard to merit that trust, and to gain the trust and support of the community.”
Carpenter, who is chief operating officer of Boone Newspapers and controlling stockholder of Carpenter Newsmedia, LLC, and lives in Natchez, Miss., said, “I grew up working with Boone Newspapers, was privileged to know Frank and those he worked with later in his life. We look forward to getting better acquainted with those at the Star that we will be working with. They are a very capable group of people, and I have enjoyed getting to know more of them recently with the help of Nathan Goodwin and Mark Stevens.
“Nathan and Mark have things in good order for us, are appreciated for the newspaper’s strengths and community service. Ours is a company that believes strongly in local leadership, and that will continue as we go forward,” Carpenter concluded.
For Goodwin, today is bittersweet. “All my life I’ve been proud of the company my grandfather loved so much,” Goodwin said. “He and my uncle Charlie made this company what it is today. Frank Robinson believed in newspapers and their role in shaping a community. Our family knows these are the right people to take the Star into the future.
“My grandfather thought a lot of Jim and considered him a close friend. He and Todd have visited many times and already know many of the employees of the Star. My grandfather would be pleased to know Boone Newspapers will oversee his legacy and the company he loved so much. This isn’t a sad day for our family, because we know the company and its employees are in the hands of knowledgeable newspapermen who are also good and trusted friends.”
Boone and Carpenter are working together to develop Carpenter Newsmedia in tandem with Boone Newspapers, as they have done in recent years. Both are family-owned companies.
The change in ownership for the Elizabethton Star was effective Jan. 1.
BNI manages newspapers in similar-sized communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan.
In addition to Boone and Carpenter, ownership management of The Star will also be overseen by Timothy D. Prince, publisher of the Shelby County (Ala.) Reporter and the Clanton (Ala.) Advertiser and a key manager for BNI.
The Elizabethton Star was first published in 1926 and traces its roots back to the Mountaineer, established in 1864.
Cribb, Greene & Associates is a ninety-one year old newspaper brokerage, appraisal and consulting firm with office in Charlottesville, Virginia and Helena, Montana.