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Gannett Announces Sale Of Knoxville Journal

July 7, 1986

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ Gannett Co. Inc. said today it will sell The Knoxville Journal to the publisher of the Journal and the publisher of a Gannett newspaper in Lansdale, Pa.

The announcement was made by Gannett Chairman Allen H. Neuharth and John J. Curley, president and chief executive officer of Gannett. No purchase price was disclosed although the Journal today quoted sources as saying the price was between $22 million and $30 million.

Ronald D. McMahan, editor and publisher of the Journal, and William C. McKinney, publisher of the Lansdale (Pa.) Reporter, will divide equally 100 percent of the stock in the Journal, which on June 30 switched from morning to afternoon publication under terms of a joint operating agreement with its competitor, the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

McMahan, who has been Journal editor for five years, will remain in charge of the paper’s editorial policy while sharing the title of co-publisher with McKinney, who will be general manager and in charge of business operations.

Gannett purchased a controlling interest in the Journal from the Roy N. Lotspeich family in 1981. McMahan, along with former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker, Gov. Lamar Alexander and others, were minority partners.

McMahan began his career as a copy boy at the Knoxville Journal. He worked as a reporter for 13 years at the Journal and Chattanooga Times and was Baker’s press secretary before returning to the Journal as editor-publisher.

McKinney has been with Gannett for 13 years.

Officials said they expect the sale to be completed by the end of July. The purchase is being financed through various New York financial institutions with Heller Financial Inc. the major backer, the announcement said.

The News-Sentinel had a weekday circulation of about 94,000 before it converted to morning editions June 30, and circulation has increased since, said editor Harry Moskos. He said Sunday circulation was about 160,000.

McMahan said the Journal’s weekday circulation was about 60,000. The paper did not publish a Sunday edition.

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