Maxwell becomes sole owner of Donalsonville News

At the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve as 2024 dawned, so began a new chapter in the history of the Donalsonville News.

Effective January 1, the ownership of the newspaper transferred from Dan Ponder and family to Donalsonville News editor David C. Maxwell.

In addition to serving as the paper’s managing editor, a post Maxwell says he has proudly devoted himself to for the past 12 years, Maxwell will now also assume the responsibilities of publisher and sole owner.

Maxwell said, “Words fail me in trying to express my gratitude to Dan and the entire Ponder family for this tremendous opportunity. It is indeed a dream come true for me, and I will be eternally grateful to the Ponders for having the confidence in me to carry on the great tradition of this newspaper and its service to the community. It is said that if you can find a job you absolutely love you will never have to work another day in your life. Well, that’s how I feel because I absolutely love this job and the people of Seminole County. I will continue each day to honorably tell the stories and to put the faces of the people in this community on the pages of their hometown paper. It has been the newspaper’s goal from day one, and it continues today, to give our readers and advertisers exactly what they deserve – the absolute best.”

“Recognizing there are still areas in which to improve,  the newspaper’s office manager Rhonda Worrell, and I are committed to effectively and efficiently serving our readers, our advertisers and our community. We believe that our best journalistic efforts are ahead of us, and we will never stop in our efforts to improve and expand our coverage as we work to become the best weekly community newspaper of our size in Georgia,” said Maxwell.

— Donalsonville News

David Maxwell, left, and Dan Ponder outside the Donalsonville News.


























Appen Media Group recognized by The New York Times

Georgia Press Association associate media member Appen Media Group was noted by The New York Times late in 2023 for its work on a story about the city of Milton and a committee studying the feasibility of the city running its own local elections.

The Times recognized Appen Media on its “Local Journalism Worth Reading From 2023” list, along with dozens of other newspaper and digital profit and nonprofit publications across the country. The list highlights local journalism that holds government accountable or shines light on issues affecting communities, such as environmental challenges, criminal justice matters or socioeconomic problems.

Appen Media’s story from late 2022 noted informal meetings held by the committee that were not open to the public and questions raised by the public about the motivation of committee members. The committee was tasked with studying the feasibility of the city running its own elections rather than paying Fulton County to manage them.

Click here to read the story that was recognized by The Times.

Georgia Trust for Local News launches to conserve and strengthen community news in middle and south Georgia

National Trust for Local News subsidiary will sustain community newspapers in Georgia with support from Knight, Woodruff and Casey foundations

The nonprofit National Trust for Local News is establishing the Georgia Trust for Local News, a new community newspaper company that will serve Middle and South Georgia. Anchored by support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation, and the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Georgia Trust for Local News is dedicated to providing and strengthening impartial, timely, and relevant community news. The Georgia Trust will begin operations in January with a portfolio of 18 newspapers that serve 900,000 Georgians in communities across Middle and South Georgia and an initiative to stand up a new community news source in Macon. Georgia Trust titles will include iconic publications with deep roots in the communities they serve, like The Albany Herald, Dublin’s Courier Herald, The Sparta Ishmaelite and The Talbotton New Era.

DuBose Porter

“We are protecting and expanding the work that these wonderful newspapers already do for nearly one million Georgians in the heart of our state,” says DuBose Porter, the longtime publisher of the Dublin Courier-Herald Group who will serve as the Georgia Trust’s executive director and whose newspapers will become the backbone of the Georgia Trust. “Each of our newspapers serves a different community in a distinct way and all will have greater resources and stronger infrastructure to provide first-rate community journalism.”

The Georgia Trust will be led by a diverse group with deep roots in Georgia. Alongside Executive Director DuBose Porter, Caleb Slinkard will serve as Executive Editor. Slinkard was most recently Georgia Editor at McClatchy, where he led the newsrooms of The Macon Telegraph and The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. Longtime Georgia newspaper executive Pam Burney will serve as General Manager.

“Community journalism is about strengthening our connections to each other and our understanding of the world around us,” says Slinkard, executive editor. “It’s how folks keep tabs on local governments and school boards, follow high school sports and learn what’s going on in their neighborhoods.”

The Georgia Trust for Local News is using philanthropic funding to launch its work, and subscribers, advertisers, and community members will continue to sustain it.

“With this grant, Knight Foundation furthers two of our deepest commitments: to strengthening the Macon community, and to supporting local news,” said Jim Brady, vice president of journalism for Knight Foundation. “We are honored to be a founding funder of the National Trust for Local News and to contribute to the growth of sustainable and independent news in Georgia.”

“Local news only works when it’s created and sustained by local people,” says Lisa Borders, a member of the National Trust for Local News board of directors and former president of the Grady Health and Coca-Cola Foundations. “From supporters like the Woodruff, Casey, and Knight foundations, to the journalists and staff at these iconic papers, and to leaders like DuBose, Caleb and Pam, the Georgia Trust for Local News has deep roots in Georgia. We are grateful for this opportunity to serve our state.”

“Strong, sustainable and non-partisan local news is essential to healthy communities,” says Woodruff Foundation President Russ Hardin. “We are pleased to support an effort that promises to sustain and strengthen local newspapers in Georgia.”

“The dismantling of local news disparately impacts marginalized communities,” said Marguerite Casey Foundation President and CEO Dr. Carmen Rojas. “We look forward to supporting the Georgia Trust as it uplifts the issues impacting Georgians and builds stronger community newspapers.”

In addition to investing in its inaugural portfolio of newspapers, the Georgia Trust will launch a local news source in Macon, Georgia in 2024. Anchored by support from the Knight Foundation, this effort will leverage a partnership with Mercer University’s Reg Murphy Center for Collaborative Journalism.

— Georgia Trust for Local News

Former publisher Keith Blevins dies in Valdosta

Former Publisher Keith Blevins, 75, of The Valdosta Daily Times and the Dalton Daily Citizen, died Nov. 25.

Keith Blevins

Blevins served as the publisher of the Dalton Daily Citizen in the early to mid 1990s before moving to The Daily Times as publisher in December 1994, serving until January 1996. He returned to the role in April 2001. In 2003 he was promoted to vice president/division manager for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. (CNHI), the company that owns The Times, but he retained his role as publisher of the VDT. On Dec. 31, 2004, he became chief operating officer of CNHI and relocated to the corporate headquarters in Alabama. He retired as COO in December 2015.

Former colleagues remembered Blevins for his kindness and the way he supported them during his time as the leader of the newspapers.

“Keith built great relationships in our community for the newspaper,” said Jeff Mutter, the general manager of the Dalton Daily Citizen. “He made sure that the newspaper kept its integrity in delivering a great news product as well as a great advertising vehicle to help with the success of local businesses.”

“He was very vivacious and a gregarious personality,” said Otis Raybon, who served as publisher of the Dalton Daily Citizen in the late 1990s. “He was immediately likable.”

Blevins is survived by his wife, Sandra Barnes Blevins of Valdosta, daughters, Michele Pirkle (Kimberly Cady) of Smyrna, Stephanie Bond (Jody Davenport) of Dalton, son, Lee LeFiles (Missy) of Hahira, grandchildren, Courtney Richards (Braxton) of Calhoun, Leesy LeFiles and Milli LeFiles of Hahira, brothers, Jerry Blevins (Barbara) of Martinsburg, Va., Edward Blevins of Roanoke, Va., and nieces and nephews.

— Kevin Hall, The Valdosta Daily Times, and James Swift, Dalton Daily Citizen

Former GPA President Jim Wooten dies

Jim Wooten, 78, a longtime journalist, columnist and editor at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and a military veteran and officer in the Georgia National Guard, died Oct. 29.

Jim Wooten

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Wooten worked for the Macon News and served in the U.S. Army before a long career at the Atlanta papers. He was an editorial columnist for the Atlanta newspapers while also spending 24 years in the Georgia Army National Guard. He retired as a colonel and earned the Legion of Merit, one of the highest military awards for service.

At The Atlanta Journal, he was city editor and then assistant managing editor before becoming the editorial editor. When the Journal and the Constitution newspapers merged, Wooten became a columnist. He retired in 2009.

Wooten was president of Georgia Press Association in 1997-98 and he also served multiple terms on the board of trustees of Georgia Press Educational Foundation. He was a former GPEF chairman.

Wooten was the fourth of six children born to Omer E. Wooten and Annie Mae Towns Wooten and the first of their children delivered in a hospital in McRae, in Telfair County. His people had been living in the area since the 1840s

Wooten and his wife, Ann, bought and restored the dilapidated Telfair County home of four-time Georgia governor Eugene Talmadge, which included not only the house but also 275 acres of mostly trees. Having retired from the AJC, Jim was involved in both the restoration of the house into Sugar Creek, an event venue, and the management of the forest land. The restoration received an award from the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The Wootens sold the house to a private owner in early 2019.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 11 at Georgia Funeral Care and Cremation, 4671 South Main Street, in Acworth. The funeral home chapel has a capacity of only 75. A private burial is planned with full military honors. Plans for a reception will be announced.


Joy Gaddy retires as publisher of The Griffin Daily News

After 47 years with The Griffin Daily News, Joy Gaddy is retiring as the newspaper’s publisher.

Joy Gaddy

“The support and loyalty of our staff will accompany me as warm memories of my work at The Griffin Daily News. My sincere thanks to all of you,” Gaddy said.

Gaddy began her career in 1976 when she was hired to work in the classified sales department by former GDN owner Quimby Melton Jr. She then worked in outside sales and as sales manager. She was promoted to advertising director in February 1999.

She became the newspaper’s publisher in 2015.

“Joy started in classifieds sales over 47 years ago and climbed the ladder with a solid work ethic, creativity and love of community journalism. She never gave up no matter how hard or challenging the landscape was,” said Rachael Raney, regional publisher of Georgia for Paxton Media, which owns The Daily News. “Joy would always find a way to motivate staff and smile in the face of adversity. Her resilience, dedication and mentorship will be missed and never forgotten. Joy is definitely a hard act to follow.”

In a 2014 interview, Gaddy said she has always enjoyed the newspaper business.

“It’s not the same job every day, and it’s something I’ve loved doing,” she said. “I guess you could say I have ink in my blood.”

— The Griffin Daily News

Boone Newsmedia, Carpenter Newsmedia transitioning to separate companies

Boone Newsmedia, Inc [BNI], and Carpenter Newsmedia, LLC [CNL], which have jointly owned and managed newspapers for the past two decades, announced to employees last week that a long-planned, orderly transition to separate companies has begun.

A number of leadership changes also were announced.

Veteran publisher and community media executive Steve Stewart succeeds Todd Carpenter as president and chief executive officer of BNI, and Catherine Boone Hadaway has been named senior vice president of the company founded by her father, the late James B. “Jim” Boone Jr. BNI Senior Vice President Tim Prince has been named president and CEO of Carpenter Newsmedia. Carpenter, who had been president of BNI since 2004, will serve as chairman of the board of CNL and take an active role in management and leadership alongside Prince. He will work with BNI as a consultant for a period of time to assist in the transition.

“On behalf of Boone Newsmedia, Inc. and the Boone family, I thank Todd for his 20 years of service leading our company,” Hadaway said. “BNI was founded on the philosophy our father inherited by his work for and association to Carmage Walls and that of his father, Buford Boone. Mr. Walls helped dad acquire his first newspaper and ultimately start his own company that we all know today as BNI. We join in both Todd’s and our father’s pride in watching Carpenter Newsmedia continue that legacy.”

“It has been an honor and a blessing to lead BNI over the years and to work in a culture of challenging and developing people, serving readers, communities and driving commerce for our customers,” Carpenter said. “Jim Boone was a benchmark, best friend, mentor and second father figure in my life. His legacy will continue to be well-served by Steve and the excellent group of people who make up the BNI family. As the CNL team and I step forward in our work, accept new challenges and pursue new opportunities, we will work hard to meet the high standards set by Jim and others who put down the foundations of our excellent reputation.”

Stewart, a McComb, Mississippi, native and graduate of the University of Mississippi, has worked as an editor, publisher and community media executive for 33 years. He is a past president of the Virginia Press Association and has won many reporting and commentary writing awards from state and national press groups. In 2021, he won the D. Lathan Mims Award for Editorial Leadership from the Virginia Press Association. Stewart will continue to live in Smithfield, Virginia, where he owns and publishes The Smithfield Times. He also owns The Coastland Times, which serves North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Both newspapers have management contracts with BNI.

— Boone Newsmedia and Carpenter Newsmedia

Click here to see the full news release from the companies: BNI-CNL leadership announcement

Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. buys The Albany Herald

The Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. has purchased The Albany Herald, a daily newspaper serving southwest Georgia, from Southern Community Newspapers Inc.

Dublin Courier Herald Publishing owns another semi-daily, The Courier Herald, and 17 weekly newspapers in middle and west Georgia. Founded in 1891, The Albany Herald is the daily newspaper in metro-Albany and southwest Georgia.

The sale was announced Oct. 16 by Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. Chairman DuBose Porter and Michael Gebhart, president and CEO of Southern Community Newspapers Inc.

“We are looking forward to taking over the publishing of The Albany Herald,” said Courier Herald Publishing Co. Chairman DuBose Porter. “We appreciate Southern Community Newspapers for entrusting us with this publication as we record the history of this wonderful community.”

SCNI’s Gebhart acknowledged Porter’s dedication to local journalism.

“SCNI and Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. have worked closely and successfully for several years. During that time, it became clear that DuBose Porter and his organization are first class. I respect DuBose as a good friend, smart operator and a force in the Georgia media landscape. I can’t think of a better fit. The great SCNI team will be a complement to the Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. family,” Gebhart said.

The Albany Herald is a great fit for the company, said Courier Herald Publishing Co. General Manager Pam Burney. “We understand the importance of newspapers in communities like Albany,” said Burney. “We will provide an active marketplace for business and industry to grow and prosper.”

The acquisition follows Dublin Courier Herald’s purchase of eight community newspapers over the past two years.

The Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co. now owns and operates community newspapers through middle and west Georgia to include:

• The Courier Herald, Dublin, Laurens County

• The Albany Herald, Dougherty County

• The Johnson Journal, Wrightsville, Johnson County

• The Soperton News, Soperton, Treulen County

• The Montgomery Monitor, Mt. Vernon, Montgomery County

• The Wheeler County Eagle, Alamo, Wheeler County

• The Wilkinson County Post, Irwinton, Wilkinson County

• The Twiggs Times New Era, Jeffersonville, Twiggs County

• The Cochran Journal, Cochran, Bleckley County

• The Sandersville Progress, Sandersville, Washington County

• The Houston Home Journal, Perry, Houston County

• The Leader Tribune, Ft. Valley, Peach County

• The Sparta Ishmaelite, Sparta, Hancock County

• The News Observer, Vienna, Dooly County

• The Citizen Georgian, Montezuma, Macon County

•The Star-Mercury Vindicator, Meriwether County

•The Harris County Journal, Hamilton, Harris County

•The Talbotton New Era, Talbotton, Talbot County

— The Dublin Courier Herald Publishing Co.

NNA: Proposed postal rates are punitive to newspapers

The proposed Jan. 21, 2024, postage increase for community newspapers is nearly four times the rate increase proposed for other users of the mail. In early October, the United States Postal Service announced it expected a 7.3 percent increase for the local Within County mailing rate for newspapers.

The average proposed increase for First-Class mail is 1.9 percent, even though the First-Class stamp rate would rise by two cents to $.68.  The proposed increase for advertising mail is also 1.9 percent, though the increase within that mail class used by local newspapers to distribute shoppers and other advertising mail increases ranging from 2.1 to 3.9 percent, depending upon mail density.  The rate for Periodicals mail destined for outside the publisher’s county would settle at a more modest 1.59 percent.

USPS is permitted to increase rates without direct approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission, although the PRC is required to review the proposed rates for illegalities and calculation errors. The increase is intended as the first half of a semi-annual increase and to go into effect January 21, 2024.

National Newspaper Association (NNA) Chair John Galer, publisher of The Journal-News in Hillsboro, Illinois, said the dramatic rate increase for local newspapers was a shock. “It certainly seems as if the postal service wants to discourage newspapers from using the mail. At a time when local journalism is already in peril and more newspapers are using the mail to reach subscribers, this increase is simply punitive,” Galer said.

Ironically, the postal service’s principal justification for the steep increase is that the PRC now requires USPS to share more of the savings created when publishers do some of the work that postal workers would otherwise have to do, such as presorting the mail and transporting it to destination post offices. Traditionally, the postal service has shared far less than 100 percent of the savings when it passes along mail discounts. But because PRC is pushing the postal system to be more generous in sharing the savings, the postal service is simply raising the basic rate so it can show a more acceptable discount.

“Raising our prices so it can claim it is creating a fair discount is the sort of math we associate with shady deals,” Galer said. “Our industry has been doing a lot of mail preparation work for years to help keep postal costs down. For us to now be punished for that simply adds outrage to our disappointment.”

The Postal Service is now guided by the Delivering For America plan introduced by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to help the Postal Service compete for the package and parcel business. Twice-a-year postage increases have been part of the DFA plan, which allows USPS to raise rates to the fullest extent allowed above inflation. The details of the postal rate announcement are available on the PRC’s website at PortalPrc (

— National Newspaper Association