The Bryan-College Station Eagle Newspaper is For Sale

By: KBTX Staff Email
By: KBTX Staff Email

The Bryan-College Station Eagle newspaper announced on its website Monday night that it is for sale.

The Eagle published the following article:

The Bryan-College Station Eagle newspaper -- one of the Brazos Valley's oldest businesses -- is for sale.

The Evening Post Publishing Co. purchased The Eagle 12 years ago for an undisclosed amount from Dallas-based A.H. Belo Corp., which owns the Dallas Morning News.

It will be only the eighth sale in The Eagle's 123-year history.

CEO John Barnwell said Evening Post is in the process of creating further diversification among its holdings.

"Going back to the company's early history, our business was dedicated exclusively to publishing newspapers," Barnwell said, adding that the family owned company has a goal to pay off existing debt by 2015. "It makes sense for us, strategically, to sell some of these legacy assets as we move into other areas."

Barnwell said the good news for whomever purchases the newspaper is this: "We will be sacrificing an outstanding operating subsidiary in order to help meet our own strategic objectives."

He declined to discuss the price-tag of the business.

The Evening Post, which is a privately held information and marketing company headquartered in Charleston, S.C., also owns the South's oldest daily newspaper, The Post and Courier of Charleston, 12 other newspapers, 13 television stations and timberland in South Carolina.

The Eagle has a long history of excellence in journalism. The photographers, reporters, sports writers and copy editors have been individually recognized by their peers, as well as for team efforts. In 2011, the newsroom earned 24 awards in the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors contest, including top honors in photography and investigative reporting, the coveted Community Service award and Best Online Newspaper.

As an increasing number of readers migrate to theeagle.com and aggiesports.com, Eagle publisher Jim Wilson said he's optimistic about the future of The Eagle.

"While I'm very sad to see our relationship with the Evening Post come to an end, I'm extremely excited about the future of The Eagle and its staff," said Wilson, who is five years into his second tour at the business. He worked as advertising director in the '80s. "The Eagle reaches more people than ever before across multiple platforms -- print, online and mobile."

Commercial printing has grown exponentially in recent years, positioning The Eagle to be the regional leader.

The Evening Post has invested in various upgrades to The Eagle's press over the past decade.

Aside from The Eagle, the maroon-colored press on Briarcrest Drive prints the Conroe Courier daily paper, 28 weeklies and at least 30 other major jobs, according to Production Manager Mark Manning, a College Station native who has worked at the newspaper for 23 years.

Under the Evening Post's leadership, The Eagle became one of first papers of its size to launch a digital presence with a smartphone app and is entrenched in social media. The company is exploring a tablet paper.

Broadening the audience through the web and mobile helps meet a demand that grows each year, said Editor Kelly Brown, a Texas A&M graduate who has worked at the paper for 16 years.

"We learned a long time ago that people interested in news from the Brazos Valley live far beyond our borders and well into other states and countries because of Texas A&M's reach," Brown said. "We're coming up with new ways to meet that demand, while continuing to serve our community the best we know how, and that's through good, solid, informative reporting on all subjects and issues of importance to our readers."

Eagle employees were told Monday afternoon of the Evening Post's intention to sell the paper Monday.

"We'll miss our colleagues and mentors at the flagship paper, but we realize this happens in the business world," said Brown who was a reporter at the paper when it was sold to the Evening Post. "Our staff and our readers likely can expect no changes during the transition. We will continue to cover the news and serve our community."

The Eagle's dedication to its community can be seen beyond the pages of the paper.

The paper led a donation drive over the summer when 30 Grimes County residents lost their homes to wildfire. Enough money was raised to give each homeowner at least $1,000 to help get back on their feet. Meanwhile, Eagle employees spent each night for two weeks sorting items donated by the community -- everything from new toothbrushes and toilet paper to furniture, clothes, linens and kitchenware.

Aside from individual boards and committees its employees serve on related to businesses and nonprofit organizations, the newspaper is responsible for doling out $585,000 to community groups last year alone, said Joanne Patranella, a 24-year veteran at the newspaper.

The Eagle, which has 91 full-time and 33 part-time employees, also owns and operates Land and Livestock Post, a biweekly publication aimed at the ag community. A few years ago, it launched an online business directory called Shopbrazos.com.

The advertising department produces two major events, a Seniors Expo, now in its 11th year with more than 1,500 attending, and a Taste of Home Cooking School, in its 7th year with well over 1,300 attendees.

Special publications produced by The Eagle include the following: Aggieland Primer and 50-Plus, along with apartment, bridal, a seniors and dining guides. The ad department has been a recipient of many newspaper industry honors, including Acme Awards, MIAs awards and the Texas Senior Corps Excellence in Communication.

Barnwell, the Evening Post's CEO, described The Eagle as being "a wonderful asset" for Evening Post Publishing Co.

"We are confident that it will represent an attractive strategic acquisition for the right buyer, just as it was for us when we bought it," he said, adding the sale will be handled by newspaper brokerage firm Dirks Van Essen of Santa Fe, N.M. "The professionalism of the entire staff is reflected in the top quality of The Eagle. We are proud to have been the owner for the last 12 years, and we look forward to watching its continued success."


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