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Convention Update: Is WVPA Newspaper Ownership Initiative a ‘must attend’ seminar?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — For anyone interested in learning how and why newspapers are selling, how newspapers are purchased, the current market value of newspapers, or about the state and future of the newspaper industry, the WVPA Newspaper Ownership Initiative is a “must attend” seminar. 

That’s the opinion of Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association. The WVPA is hosting its annual convention Aug. 3-5 at Canaan Valley Resort, and the WVPA Newspaper Ownership Initiative is a major attraction this year.

Speaking on the Ownership Initiative, set for Saturday, Aug. 5, at 10 a.m., Smith said, “This seminar has really generated some interest in the industry and across the state. Newspapers are selling across the country and in West Virginia. There is real value in community newspapers and many people are looking at the industry. Here in West Virginia, we have some outstanding newspapers that might be available for purchase — the owners are thinking of retirement — and some potential new owners who are looking at options. Additionally, everyone is interested in learning about market value and the state of the industry.”

“We have several folks coming just for this seminar. We have an outstanding panel and several members, such as Dave Slavin, a newspaper broker, will be at convention for two or three days to allow for private conversations,” Smith said. “This is just the start of the Newspaper Ownership Initiative. We will continue to work with owners and buyers, with the state and private partners to identify resources, and in areas such as broadband expansion and community development to increase the marketability of our newspapers.”

Smith said the panel offers attendees a wide array of resources:

Dave Slavin, senior associate, W.B. Grimes & Company. Established in 1959, W.B. Grimes & Company’s Newspaper Division has assisted owners and publishers with the analysis, acquisition and disposition of over 1,500 media properties. Slavin will discuss newspapers sales, newspaper value, the marketplace, and related information and opportunities.

Mike Fleak, Small Business Administration product specialist, Huntington Bank. Huntington Bank has been the No. 1 SBA lender in the region for the past eight years. Fleak will discuss resources and options available to small businesses and prospective buyers in West Virginia.

Mike Taylor, Randolph County Commission. Taylor is commission president, serves on the board of directors of both the West Virginia Association of Counties and the West Virginia County Commissioners Association, and was selected to participate in the National Association of Counties Annual County Leadership Institute. He is also the County Commission representative for Randolph County’s Chamber of Commerce and Development Authority. Taylor will address the value of a newspaper to the local community.

Michael Dempsey, Certified Valuation Analyst, Smith Cochran & Hicks PLLC. SCH is a West Virginia-based accounting firm with understanding of the current obstacles facing small businesses. A diverse firm, SCH takes an aggressive approach to assisting business with a commitment to helping keep more earning through effective tax planning strategies. SCH offers analysis of non-security investment opportunities to ensure an informed investment decision. Dempsey will discuss tax, investment and opportunity analysis as relates to West Virginia businesses.

Andy Malinoski, communications manager, Frontier Communications Corporation. Frontier provides communications services to urban, suburban, and rural communities in 29 states. Frontier offers a variety of services to residential customers over its fiber-optic and copper networks. Frontier Business Edge™ offers communications services to small, medium, and enterprise businesses. Malinoski will discuss broadband and Internet services in West Virginia as relates to newspaper digital and online media operations.

“The WVPA is tasked with helping our member newspapers, but it’s clear that the state, counties and communities also value their newspapers,” Smith said. “Not everyone agrees on the editorial positions or coverage, but no one has said their community would be better off without a newspaper. Having a local newspaper – like having a healthcare center or higher education facility – makes a community more attractive to current and future residents, businesses and industries.

“Community newspapers are indispensable to the communities they serve. There is no substitute for a local newspaper that is doing its job.”   Warren Buffet

Smith said the WVPA Newspaper Ownership Initiative is designed to sustain and strengthen state’s newspaper industry by identifying resources key in the process of marketing, recruitment, purchase or sale of newspapers. “Our panel of experts will cover key issues:  How do owners and potential buyers determine the current market value of a newspaper? What tax and accounting preparation is needed for a sale or purchase? What banking and lending resources are available to both sides? How and why are newspapers selling today?”

Additionally, the Ownership Initiative will look at identifying available newspapers and potential buyers.

Does purchasing a weekly newspaper make sense for graduates of the WVU Reed College of Media, Marshall University School of Journalism or other university and college graduates in West Virginia? Is newspaper ownership an interesting option for retirees or individuals and families that seek the lifestyle that newspaper ownership and West Virginia offer?  As the state seeks to attract new industry leaders and corporate offices, is community newspaper ownership/operation an interesting opinion a spouse or family members?

Other issues to consider: What is the value of a local newspaper to the community, the county and the state of West Virginia? Is there public and private support and interest for continuing community newspapers on the local level? What economic development, training and educational resources are available?

“We hope everyone can attend and hear the presentations, “Smith said. “Whether you’re interested in selling or buying a newspaper in 10 minutes, 10 months or 10 years, this is a must-attend seminar. ”

For information on registering for the seminar, convention or to reserve a room at Canaan Valley Resort, visit









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