Futrells selling Washington Daily News

Published 11:24 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

By Staff
Staff Reports
An agreement has been reached in principle for the sale of the Washington Daily News by the Futrell family to Washington Newsmedia LLC, a newly formed media company controlled by Boone Newspapers Inc. of Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The announcement was made yesterday by Publisher Ashley B. Futrell Jr. to the newspaper’s staff.
“After much prayerful consideration, my family has made the decision to sell majority interest in the Daily News,” Futrell said. “Boone Newspapers is also a family company, and it shares our values and commitment to local news and service.”
Futrell said he determined more than a year ago that the Daily News needed to establish a strategic alliance with a larger newspaper company in order to take advantage of the economies of scale. The search led to Boone, and the subsequent discussions have resulted in the decision to sell the paper, ending more than 60 years of Futrell family operation. Ashley B. Futrell became editor and publisher of the paper in 1949.
The younger Futrell also announced that upon completion of the deal, he will retire as president and publisher after more than 32 years with the paper. He will be succeeded by Ray McKeithan, the current associate publisher and general manager. Both the Futrell family and McKeithan will retain minority stakes in the new publishing company.
“It has been one of the true privileges of my life to continue my family’s stewardship of the Daily News,” Futrell said. “I believe this change of ownership will both honor and extend my father’s vision and legacy of the role of our newspaper in the communities we serve.”
Upon closing, Futrell will join his father on the newspaper’s masthead with the designation of editor and publisher emeritus. He will maintain his personal office in the Daily News building, and the Futrell family will continue ownership of The Ocracoker, a weekly publication serving Ocracoke Island.
Washington Newsmedia LLC will publish the Daily News, The Scuppernong Reminder, a weekly publication serving Tyrrell County, and other affiliated publications.
Boone Newspapers owns and manages newspapers in similar-sized communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan. Properties close to Washington include The Roanoke-Chowan Herald (Ahoskie), The Gates County Index, The Suffolk (Va.) News-Herald and The (Franklin, Va.) Tidewater News. Todd H. Carpenter of Natchez, Miss., is president and chief operating officer of Boone Newspapers, and James B. Boone Jr. of Tuscaloosa, Ala., is the chief executive officer.
“We are honored to succeed the Futrells and will work hard to build on the strong foundations of journalism, service to customers and community put down by the Futrell family,” Carpenter said. “We are fortunate to become associated with Ray McKeithan and with the excellent group of people at the Daily News. We will work hard to measure up to the confidence put in us by Brownie Futrell and his family and to the responsibilities we have to all who have a stake in the future success of the organization.”
Due diligence is under way now toward the completion of the transaction, with closing scheduled on or near July 31.