Elizabethton Star joins BNI family

Published 4:42 pm Monday, January 6, 2014

Elizabethton Newsmedia LLC (ENL), a new Tennessee affiliate of Boone Newspapers Inc. (BNI), purchased the Elizabethton Star of Elizabethton, Tenn., Jan. 1, 2014.

The new company will oversee operations of the nearly 88-year-old daily newspaper, its commercial printing operations, an award-winning website, www.starhq.com, and two real-estate publications, Real Estate Monthly and Mountain Land & Homes.

The sale ends nearly 59 years of operation of the Star by Elizabethton Newspapers Inc., which had been managed and owned by the Robinson and Goodwin families of Carter County, Tenn. The Tennessee Press Association named the Star a General Excellence award winner in 2013. The newspaper won top awards from TPA and the Associated Press in 2013 after setting a 2012 goal of producing and enhancing quality community journalism. The Star’s commercial print operations produce newspapers and magazines for several companies in North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee. Those operations will continue under the new ownership.

Mark A. Stevens, a longtime newspaperman who has served as an editor and publisher at newspapers in Tennessee and Louisiana, will continue as publisher of the Elizabethton Star. In 2004, Washington, D.C.-based Presstime Magazine named Stevens to its 20 Under 40 class of up-and-coming newspaper executives.

James B. Boone Jr. of Tuscaloosa is BNI’s chairman and chief executive officer. Boone was a longtime friend of the late Frank Robinson, who became publisher of the Star in 1955. Robinson died in 2011. Robinson’s grandson, Nathan Goodwin, had, most recently, served as chairman of the board of the company.

“I appreciate the Robinson and Goodwin families who are entrusting us with the future of the Elizabethton Star and the people we will work with there in serving Elizabethton, Carter and Johnson counties and those whose publications the Star prints,” Boone said. “The late Frank Robinson was my mentor and friend beginning in the 1960s, when he invited me to spend several days at his home and office. I was a new publisher, struggling with many problems. The times with Frank at the office, and he and Ann and their family in their home, were important to me.

“He set important benchmarks for many of us by his management and leadership at the Star, and our company still follows those important standards… We will work hard to merit that trust, and to gain the trust and support of the community.”

Carpenter added, “I grew up working with Boone Newspapers, was privileged to know Frank and those he worked with later in his life. We look forward to getting better acquainted with those at the Star that we will be working with. They are a very capable group of people, and I have enjoyed getting to know more of them recently with the help of Nathan Goodwin and Mark Stevens. Nathan and Mark are appreciated for the newspaper’s strengths and community service. Ours is a company that believes strongly in local leadership, and that will continue as we go forward.”

Goodwin spoke highly of the men to whom he and his family have entrusted the future of his family’s newspaper.

“All my life I’ve been proud of the company my grandfather loved so much,” Goodwin said. “He and my uncle Charlie made this company what it is today. Frank Robinson believed in newspapers and their role in shaping a community. As the industry continues to evolve, we know these are the right people to take the Star into the future. My grandfather thought a lot of Jim and considered him a close friend. He and Todd have visited many times through the years and already know many of the employees of the Star. My grandfather would be pleased to know Boone Newspapers will oversee his legacy and the company he loved so much. We know the Star and its employees are in the hands of knowledgeable newspapermen who are also good and trusted friends.”

BNI manages newspapers in similar-sized communities in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Minnesota, Ohio and Michigan. The organization has a rich history of quality newspapers, websites, magazines and other publications in the communities it serves, explained in part by Boone’s corporate philosophy: “We seek to produce the highest quality product the economics of the community served can support. And then, by ingenuity and imagination, we strive for a higher quality in an effort to serve and build that community.”

The Elizabethton Star was first published in 1926 and traces its roots back to the Mountaineer, established in 1864.