SILER CITY – Mary Little Resch, the publisher and editor of The Chatham News and The Chatham Record, has announced the sale of the newspapers to Chatham Media Group LLC, a partnership consisting of two Chatham County business leaders and the former publisher of The Sanford Herald in Lee County.
Resch, who has served as the guiding force for the newspapers since the death of her husband Alan – who had served as publisher and editor for more than 40 years – in June 2016, informed her staff of the sales agreement on Monday. Terms were not disclosed.
The transaction is expected to close on Nov. 8, after which Resch will retire. Bill Horner III, who was publisher of The Sanford Herald in neighboring Lee County from 1998 until his own retirement in 2016, will succeed her as publisher and editor.
The Chatham News, which primarily serves the Siler City area, has been published since 1924. The Chatham Record, which primarily serves Pittsboro area, was founded in 1878. For nine decades, a Resch has been at the helm of the company.
“Since 1939, the Resch family has dedicated itself to covering the news, sports, business and human interest stories of Chatham County,” Resch said. “We have enjoyed being stewards of this important community institution.
“We are deeply grateful for the many friendships and business relationships we have enjoyed over the years and look forward to seeing The Chatham News and Record grow in the future. We hope the community will give the new owners the same generous support they have given us. I especially want to thank the staff of the paper for all the support and assistance they have provided me for the last two years.”
The Chatham News and The Chatham Record began publishing under the ownership of E.A. Resch and his wife, Alice Lambe Resch, in 1939 after the couple moved to Siler City from High Point. Their son, Alan D. Resch, joined the company in 1962 and became publisher upon the elder Resch’s death in 1974. Under Resch family ownership and leadership, the newspapers have earned numerous N.C. Press Association awards for news, sports, photography and editorial content, and garnered a reputation for commitment to community journalism.
The buyer, Chatham Media Group LLC, is a partnership formed by Kirk Bradley of Chapel Hill, Chatham resident Chris Ehrenfeld and Horner, who lives in Sanford.
“The Resch Family have been terrific stewards of The Chatham News and Record for decades,” said Bradley, 55, the chairman, president and CEO of Lee-Moore Capital Company, a private, family-owned business that operates in the real estate investment and venture capital industries. “Local ownership of a newspaper and media provider is key to understanding the needs of a community, particularly one changing as fast as Chatham and its municipalities. Bill, Chris and I are honored to be given the trust of the Resch family to continue to steward the newspaper into the 21st century.”
Bradley said the newspaper will help the community support innovative education in Chatham County, which will help lead to expanding economic development activities “for all current and future Chatham County citizens.”
“We think that the three of us represent the best way to have a local media thrive and support the activities of the Chatham community,” he said “Most importantly, we have a publisher who understands the challenges of journalism in the 21st century to lead the day to day journalism and business activities. Supporting him are two local business leaders who have a long track record in supporting K-14 education and boosting economic development to provide good jobs and an expanding tax base for the county and its municipalities.”
Ehrenfeld, 42, a Chatham County resident who co-owns and operates Bold Development Group, Bold Construction, Domicile Realty, Governors Club Realty and Chapel Hill Media Group, said he’s been an “avid reader” of the Chatham News and Record since he moved to the area more than 20 years ago.
“It is very exciting to be part of a local ownership group that will continue the legacy of the paper,” he said. “It is very important to our team that we have a local news source that continues to be the go to place for local news and information in our county. We didn't want to see the paper purchased by a large media company and lose the local touch. We need a news provider that is a part of the fabric of our community.
“I am very excited to have partnered with Bill and Kirk,” Ehrenfeld said. “Bill's knowledge of running a local paper is unmatched. And Kirk shares with me a similar vision for the future of Chatham County; providing exceptional educational and business opportunities for generations to come. We look forward to working together to see this paper and Chatham County grow and prosper in the years ahead.”
Horner, 55, is the grandson of the late W.E. Horner Sr., who founded The Sanford Herald in 1930, and son of the late Bill Horner Jr., whom he succeeded as publisher in 1998 when the newspaper was sold to Paxton Media Group. The Herald was recognized as the “General Excellence” winner in the N.C. Press Association’s News & Editorial Contest in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, including an unprecedented four-year stretch as being named the best small daily newspaper in all of North Carolina.
“I knew Alan Resch, of course, and his and Mary John’s commitment to the newspaper and Chatham County is well-known in the industry throughout this state,” Horner said. “I’ve also learned how dedicated the paper’s staff is. The opportunity to team with them, and to partner with Kirk, whom I’ve worked with on many projects in Lee County, and with Chris – whose commitment to Chatham is equal to the Resch family’s and to Kirk’s – in carrying on that legacy was more than enough to bring me back into newspapering. I can’t wait to get started. Chatham is a county on the move, and it’ll be a privilege to help write that story.”
Horner said the new ownership group recognized the realities and challenges of community journalism and modern newspapering.
“But we also recognize and embrace the role an innovative newspaper can play in building community and providing compelling news coverage,” he said. “We’re serious about local, and it’ll show. I think we also grasp the need to grow the product – print, niche, digital and more – to better reach our audience, and we look forward to sharing our plans for that in the coming weeks and months. We are confident we’ll give the people of Chatham County even more reason to embrace their newspaper.”
Horner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.