Daily Herald to buy Pana News Inc. in latest downstate newspaper acquisition
Negotiations are nearing completion for the sale of Pana News Inc. in central Illinois to Paddock Publications Inc., officials for both companies announced Tuesday, in a transaction that would add Pana's three storied community weeklies to Paddock's growing base of downstate newspapers.
The weeklies are the Pana News-Palladium, the Golden Prairie News in Assumption and the Free Press-Progress in Nokomis, which also incorporates the Morrisonville Times in its pages. Paddock officials said these papers are a perfect complement to weekly newspapers the company owns in neighboring Farmersville, Girard, Palmyra and Virden.
Paddock Publications, based in suburban Arlington Heights, is the publisher of the Daily Herald, dailyherald.com, Reflejos, The Business Ledger and an array of niche publications. The Daily Herald is one of the largest family-owned newspapers in the country and has been published in the suburbs of Chicago since 1872.
In addition to those papers, the company in recent years has acquired and invested in strengthening 12 community newspapers in southern Illinois from Chester and Carbondale east to Shawneetown.
"We're an independent family-owned newspaper company that always has found success by being responsive to the needs of Main Street rather than Wall Street," said Stefanie Anderson, general manager of the downstate newspapers. "We'll carry those same values forward here as we work hard to maintain the incredible legacy of longtime owner Tom Phillips to the communities served by the Pana News Group."
Paddock Publications is a 146-year-old company with its roots in rural Illinois.
The company founder, Hosea C. Paddock, grew up on a downstate farm in the late 1800s and planned to become a teacher before being bit by the newspaper bug in places like Fulton, Morrison, Prophetstown and Sterling. He eventually bought a newspaper in what was then the rural outskirts of 19th century Chicago. The rural outskirts have become suburbs, and Paddock Publications' Daily Herald has successfully fended off powerful competition from big city news organizations and grown to become a modern and award-winning newspaper that has earned the top Community Service recognition of the national Inland Press Association eight times in the last 14 years.
Paddock ownership is now in its fourth generation, with two family members occupying roles as executives with the company.
"When we received word that Tom Phillips was interested in selling the newspapers, we were honored that Tom wanted us to be the buyer," said Douglas K. Ray, Paddock's chairman, publisher and CEO. "I have known Tom for many years and have such respect for him and for what he has done to support Pana and the other communities served by his newspapers. You can expect the same commitment from Paddock Publications. Our goal is to help make the community a better place, and the Pana News Group newspapers will play leadership roles in making that happen."
As new owners, Anderson added, Paddock is committed to the future of the Pana News Inc. newspapers and will bring the company's tradition of trusted local journalism to them.
"One of our bedrock principles is our belief that we are in a partnership with our readers and communities," she said. "We're going to involve our readers and the community in our coverage and in our efforts to continuously improve the newspaper."