Originally created 07/24/02

'Chronicle' parent plans to buy Louisville paper



Morris Communications Co. announced today it has signed a letter of intent to purchase Fall Line Publishing Inc., the owner of The News & Farmer, a weekly newspaper in Louisville, Ga.

Financial terms of the deal, set to close July 31, were not disclosed.

Augusta-based Morris Communications owns The Augusta Chronicle and 35 other newspapers in 14 states.

The News & Farmer, a 5,100-circulation community newspaper serving Jefferson and Glascock counties, also produces The Jefferson Reporter and Wadley Herald.

The newspaper's staff, including seven full-time employees, will remain in place.

The Chronicle will oversee operations of The News & Farmer, but current publisher Joyce Beverly, the owner of Fall Line Publishing, will remain in place during a one-year transition period.

"Joyce Beverly and her staff have perfected a blend of community coverage, substantive news reporting and excellent service for the readers and advertisers of many communities in both Jefferson and Glascock counties," Morris Communications President William S. Morris IV said.

The newspaper could be printed on The Chronicle's presses in the future, but its style, format and focus will not change.

"We are looking at seamless changes that will improve the product and improve the way we produce it," Mrs. Beverly said. "This will be a positive thing for all the parties involved. We are very fortunate to become part of a newspaper corporation that has the ability to do so much."

A deal has been in the works for about three months.

Mrs. Beverly, a longtime Jefferson County resident who now lives in Atlanta, said she decided to sell because the company made her an attractive offer and because she wanted to focus her attention on being sales director for the community newspapers her husband publishes south of Atlanta.

Julian Miller, the president of The Chronicle, said the quality of the Louisville newspaper and its staff will be a valuable addition to the publications produced by the Augusta operation.

"We have been tremendously impressed with the quality of community journalism and the respect the Jefferson and Glascock county communities have for this publication," he said. "In both news coverage and advertising effectiveness, I feel this staff can bring a lot to our other publications. We look forward to having them on board."

Mrs. Beverly has owned The Jefferson Reporter since 1991. In 1996, she consolidated the publication with the The News & Farmer and Wadley Herald.

The News & Farmer, established more than 150 years ago, is recognized by the Georgia Press Association as the oldest weekly newspaper in Georgia.

Last year, the newspaper won first place in the association's investigative reporting category for weekly newspapers.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.