Dolph Tillotson

Southern Newspaper, Inc., parent company of The Paris News, has reached an agreement in principle to buy The Sulphur Springs News-Telegram and other associated publications from Echo Publisher Co., Dolph Tillotson, president of Southern, recently announced.

The addition of the News-Telegram strengthens SNI’s relationship with and commitment to Northeast Texas and takes advantage of the strong connection between Paris and Sulphur Springs.

“We couldn’t be more excited to gain a Southern Newspaper partner with the News-Telegram,” said J.D. Davidson, editor and publisher of The Paris News. “The communities of Paris and Sulphur Springs share such a strong bond already and this only increases our connection.”

Tillotson and Keys said Echo and Southern are working toward a closing on about May 1. Representatives of both companies, including Davidson, met with News-Telegram staff members Monday to explain the planned changes.

“After 65 years of custodial stewardship of the News-Telegram, we are excited to announce the transfer of the paper to Southern Newspapers,” Scott Keys, President and Chief Operating Officer of the company, said in a statement Tuesday morning. “It is a bitter-sweet moment for myself and my family. This newspaper has been a driving force in our lives since 1951 and we have tried over the years to not only inform and entertain our readers, but to also be a leading proponent for Sulphur Springs and Hopkins County.

“But the realities of the newspaper industry are that single, family-owned operations are almost impossible to maintain – especially for daily newspapers. There are only a handful of single newspaper companies left in the state and country. We are thrilled that SNI has agreed to carry on the stewardship of not only the News-Telegram, but also Country World and Down Home Living magazine. The SNI family carries the same values and respect for the community as the Frailey-Keys family has had for all of these years, which is doing our best to help our community grow and prosper.”

Tillotson told the staff that no major changes are planned in staffing or in publications or publication frequency.

Southern Newspapers, Inc., a privately owned Texas corporation, is an association of 15 community newspapers, most of which are located in Texas. Those papers include 10 other Texas papers, the largest of which is The Galveston County Daily News, Texas’ oldest newspaper.

Tillotson said the company is excited by the opportunities it sees in Sulphur Springs.

“First, I want to say thanks to Scott Keys and to other shareholders of The News-Telegram for having the confidence in our company to agree to a sale,” Tillotson said. “We also are very excited by what we see in Hopkins County the community of Sulphur Springs, which seems to us to be a beautiful and progress community with a great future.

“The city is exactly the kind that fits our company profile. Besides Paris and Galveston, we also operate newspapers in Lufkin, Nacogdoches, New Braunfels, Seguin, Kerrville, Baytown, Bay City, Del Rio and Lake Jackson-Brazoria 

County. Our company obviously is bullish on Texas and its non-metropolitan communities.”

The company also operates three newspapers in Alabama and one in Tennessee.

Southern Newspapers, Inc., was founded in the 1950s by famed newspaper investor and entrepreneur B. Carmage Walls. Its first newspaper in Texas was The Baytown Sun. Today the company is owned by Lissa Williams Walls, daughter of the founder and chairman of the company.

To learn more about the company, readers may access its website at www.sninews.com.

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