Fresh off a purchase of 12 southern Illinois newspapers in August, Arlington Heights-based Paddock Publications is planning to add a central Illinois printing plant and four more downstate newspapers to its holdings.
The company, owners of the Daily Herald, is nearing completion of negotiations with Gold Nugget Publications, which publish weeklies in Farmersville, Girard, Palmyra and Virden, just south of Springfield.
The papers have been owned for almost 100 years by the Jones family, third-generation publishers who have no successors and sought Paddock as a potential buyer.
"The family's legacy of community newspapering is long and honored, and family members felt Paddock's commitment to community service and journalism presented a natural fit," Daily Herald Publisher and CEO Douglas K. Ray and President and COO Scott T. Stone said in a joint statement.
The deal is expected to close in the next few weeks. Terms were not disclosed.
The acquisition represents a continuation of Paddock's recent strategy to expand and diversify its assets.
It will bring its downstate newspaper total to 16. That includes five small dailies: the Benton Evening News, The Daily Register in Harrisburg, The Daily Republican in Marion, Du Quoin Evening Call and Eldorado Daily Journal. They were purchased along with seven nearby weeklies from GateHouse Media LLC.
The newspapers acquired in August have been "performing nicely, surpassing revenue goals," the statement by Ray and Stone said.
Making the newest acquisition especially appealing, the statement said, is a printing plant "in which commercial work is under contract and where we expect to print Paddock's recently purchased southern Illinois weeklies."
Nathan and Norris Jones, two of the primary owners of Gold Nugget, were college classmates of Ray and Nathan Jones serves with him on the board of directors of the Illinois Press Association Foundation, Ray said. They had informal discussions about a possible transaction for some time, he said.
"We know the value of community journalism and its importance to the life and times of these towns and we intend to sustain the Jones family commitment to them," Ray said. "For us, it is a way to grow the business through our journalism and bring Paddock's brand of local news to new communities.
"Paddock's strategic plan calls for growth in new and different ways, and this acquisition fits the bill. In fact, it is a perfect fit for us. We are proud to have been selected to sustain the Jones family legacy."