TUSCOLA — It is an end of a nearly six-year era for the current incarnation of a Tuscola-based news institution as of Friday.
The Tuscola Review has recently been sold to Better Newspapers Inc. (BNI) of Mascoutah. David and Jennie Porter were the Review’s owners.
The Porters were also the owners of the Arcola Record-Herald and Lebanon Advertiser. Those papers were also part of the sale. Porter will continue to work with the new owner for a period of one year in an editorial capacity.
The sale is final as of Friday, July 1, with the Review merging into the Tuscola Journal. Meanwhile, the Advertiser will cease operations.
The final editions of the Tuscola Review and Lebanon Advertiser are on Wednesday and Thursday.
The Record-Herald will continue its own independent operations under new ownership. The Record-Herald is the oldest continuously published newspaper in Douglas County since 1866.
What happens to Review and Advertiser subscribers?
Porter elaborates on the action plan as a result of the sale. Current, active subscribers to the Review will begin receiving issues of the Tuscola Journal. Similarly, current subscribers to the Advertiser will be receiving issues of the Record-Herald.
Subscribers will still receive the same local news coverage plus additional coverage of a wider geographic area.
Tuscola will be better as a result of the merger
Porter said the sale will assure that the serviced communities will continue to have local news coverage and advertising opportunities.
“As most people know, it has become increasingly more difficult to maintain newspapers, large and small, across the country,” Porter said. “The [COVID-19] pandemic made things worse with the loss of event advertising. Steep increases in printing costs, postage, and personnel also added expense during a two-year revenue drought.”
Retirement is also a factor in the decision to sell Tuscola Review
The ongoing maintenance issues in newspaper operations amidst a global pandemic were not the only factors in the decision to sell.
“My wife and I are nearing retirement age,” Porter said. “We knew this was a probability within the next several years. We were not yet actively seeking a buyer. In today’s economic climate, it would be a huge risk to turn down a legitimate offer.”
Porter said that BNI is a logical fit. Many of BNI’s newspapers are in portions of central, south-central, and southwest Illinois. The Illinois territory includes Douglas County, where they currently circulate.
“We’ve been chopping the pot in those markets,” Porter said. “So it makes sense to pool our resources. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. I’m looking forward to being a part of the solution to ensure the communities will continue to be served by newspapers they can be proud of too.”
Hoskins: Porter receives welcome to the BNI staff
Greg Hoskins is the owner of BNI. Hoskins is welcoming Porter to the staff. He said he believes the communities will receive better service through this consolidation.
As a result, the merger will bring more resources to the papers. Porter will also be able to focus more on editorial content without the overburden of the business and delivery aspects of the papers.
“We have a lot of exciting plans for these communities,” Hoskins said. “David is well-known in the communities and in the industry for his writing and reporting skills.”
“Our team will be stronger with him on board,” Hoskins adds. “The communities will be better served as well.”
BNI owns more than 30 newspapers across Illinois and Missouri. They include the Arthur Graphic-Clarion, the Breeze-Courier in Taylorville, Vandalia Leader-Union, Macoupin County Enquirer-Democrat, and the Troy Times-Tribune. (Editor note: I am a crime reporter on contract for the Times-Tribune.)
Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.