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.
“It is a high honor to lead a community media company founded by my mentor Jim Boone,” said Stewart, 56, who had been a senior vice president of BNI for the past decade. “Jim’s cherished values of serving communities with excellent journalism and first-rate marketing solutions for small businesses inspired all of us who worked for him and will continue to guide BNI for many years to come. It has been a privilege to work for the past 17 years with and for Todd Carpenter, who has laid a foundation for continued success. The course charted by Todd and Jim will serve BNI well moving forward.”
Prince, 50, a native of Alabama, began his community media career in Texas after graduating from the University of Alabama. Prince has been active in civic, church and industry leadership throughout his 35-year career, having previously served on the Alabama Press Association board of directors, the Alabama Newspaper Foundation board of directors, the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association board of directors, and currently serving as a founding member of the America’s Newspapers board of directors and the America’s Newspapers Foundation board of directors.
The Shelby County (Alabama) Reporter, a newspaper Prince has published for more than two decades, has been named Alabama’s best community newspaper for 17 consecutive years by the Alabama Press Association.
"Throughout my life, the Boone family has been personally and professionally intertwined with my own,” Prince said. “Jim Boone wasn't just a mentor, but a beacon of inspiration and wisdom. As I embark on this next chapter, I'm not just continuing my career but expanding on a shared legacy. The bond between our families is a testament to the time-honored traditions and values we hold dear, and I look forward with anticipation and gratitude to the future ahead."
Hadaway is a Tuscaloosa native and graduate of Rhodes College, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in Business and Religious Studies. She has worked for BNI for the last decade serving in various roles related to advertising and sales, circulation and audience development, bookkeeping, editorial, general management and publishing. She lives in Vicksburg, Mississippi, where BNI owns and publishes The Vicksburg Post.
BNI publishes newspapers, magazines and related websites in Alabama, Mississippi, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, Michigan and Minnesota.
Jim Boone founded BNI and remained the controlling stockholder and chairman of the board until his death in February 2023. His wife of 36 years, Carolyn Farrior Boone, now serves as chairman of the board and controlling stockholder. Carolyn, along with Jim’s five children, own all other stock in BNI.
BNI has its corporate origins in Tuscaloosa Newspapers, Inc. [TNI], a company that leased The Tuscaloosa News from Public Welfare Foundation, Inc. [PWF] from 1951 until 1981. TNI went through several intra-company mergers and name changes in 1981-83, following its decision not to renew its lease on The Tuscaloosa News.
PWF was principally funded in the 1950s by the late Charles Marsh, who gave The Tuscaloosa News, The Gadsden (Alabama) Times and The Spartanburg (South Carolina) Herald-Journal to PWF. The structure of leasing newspapers to their publishers and significant PWF funding was provided by Carmage Walls, who then headed Marsh’s newspaper company and about that time began his own company.
Buford Boone, father of Jim Boone, was publisher of The Tuscaloosa News under Marsh
ownership and formed TNI to lease the newspaper under Walls’ guidance. He had come to
Tuscaloosa in 1947 when Marsh’s company bought that newspaper. Prior to then, he was editor of The Macon (Georgia) Telegraph, a Marsh-owned newspaper published by Walls. In 1957 Buford Boone was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism for distinguished editorial writing in The Tuscaloosa News.
Jim Boone worked for Walls-owned companies from 1958 until late 1968, in Georgia, Texas and a number of years as publisher of Suffolk (Virginia) News-Herald, then owned by Walls and Gene Worrell. He returned to Tuscaloosa in late 1968, when his father sold him a controlling interest in TNI as part of a plan to acquire other newspapers.
Walls suggested selling the leasing company to Jim Boone, provided the basic plan for acquiring newspapers and gave periodic strategic advice for more than 25 years. While there are no financial ties to the Walls Family, the association of the Boone and Walls families continues strong through succeeding generations.
In October 2022, the name of the company was changed from Boone Newspapers, Inc. to Boone Newsmedia, Inc., to better reflect the nature of its business and mission going forward.
CNL was founded in the owner-publisher tradition of Marsh, Walls and Boone with Boone and Carpenter working together over several years in acquisitions and cooperative management of CNL and BNI. CNL publishes newspapers, websites, magazines and offers digital and other marketing services in Georgia, Louisiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
Carpenter is a Tuscaloosa native and graduate of the University of Alabama. He is a member of The University of Alabama President’s Cabinet, College of Commerce board of visitors, College of Communications board of visitors and has been active in civic and industry leadership in numerous roles and organizations throughout his career. He and his wife, Emily, live in Natchez, Mississippi, where he last published a daily newspaper, where they raised a family and he continues to base his work. Carpenter plans to continue to work from Natchez and Tuscaloosa.