The Kentucky New Era, the daily newspaper published by the same family in Hopkinsville for more than 125 years, has been sold to the Paxton Media Group in Paducah.
Employees of the New Era and several affiliated small papers heard the announcement Friday morning from Taylor Wood Hayes, the New Era’s CEO, and representatives of Paxton.
In a brief story posted on the New Era’s website shortly after employees learned about the new ownership, Hayes said it was important to his family to keep it in the commonwealth and to pass it on to another family.
According to a company history on the New Era’s website, the newspaper was established in 1869 by two lawyers, John D. Morris and Asher Graham Caruth.
The first Kentucky New Era office was on West Seventh Street, which was then called Bridge Street. The paper was housed in several other downtown locations until 1910, when a new office was built at Seventh and Bethel streets. The paper moved to a new facility on Ninth Street near Skyline Drive in 1971.
In 1881, a new part owner, Charles Hunter Meriwether Wood, joined the Kentucky New Era. Wood was a lawyer from Virginia. He became the sole owner in 1900.
The paper had remained in the Wood family until this week. Taylor Wood Hayes, 55, was the New Era’s editor, publisher and CEO. He is Charles Hunter Wood’s great-great-grandson.
The New Era has been among a dwindling number of family-owned community newspapers in America. The company also owned the twice-weekly Princeton Times-Leader and the weekly Eagle Post in Oak Grove. It has held a federal contract for more than 25 years to publish the Army’s Fort Campbell Courier newspaper.
Under Hayes’ leadership, the company was rebranded in recent years as the New Era Media Group and acquired two more weeklies – the Dawson Springs Progress in Hopkins County and the Journal Enterprise in Webster County.
All of the company’s newspapers, along with a series of specialty magazines, have been printed at the New Era’s Ninth Street headquarters.
Paxton Media Group, based in Paducah, owns the Paducah Sun, its flagship newspaper. According to the newspaper’s website, fourth- and fifth-generation descendants of the paper’s founders now run the company.
“In the late 1980s and early 1990s, in conjunction with the return of the fourth-generation family members to the company, Paxton Media embarked on an ambitious acquisition program that is still underway,” the paper’s website states. “The company now publishes more than 30 daily newspapers and dozens of associated weekly and niche publications in the Midwest and South.”