Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Family Feud Leads to Newspaper's Sale; Father-Daughter Rift Forces Sale of Effingham (Ill.) Daily News

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

Family Feud Leads to Newspaper's Sale; Father-Daughter Rift Forces Sale of Effingham (Ill.) Daily News

Article excerpt

THE BITTER DISPUTE between the publisher of the Effingham (Ill.) Daily News and his daughter -- whom he fired as assistant publisher -- has Ied to the sale of the 12,849-circulation evening paper.

Ithaca, N.Y.-based Park Communications bought the Daily News and its Weekly Advertiser shopper in a Dec. 29 transaction with publisher Joseph E. McNaughton, who owned 43% of the paper, McNaughton's daughter Jo Ann McNaughton-Kade, who owned 20.5%, and other McNaughton family members.

The paper had been in the McNaughton family for three generations.

No terms will be released, said Robert J. Rossi, vice president/newspapers for Park.

The sale was an unsurprising coda to a tangled dispute that arose as much from two very different journalism philosophies as from family emotions.

Beginning last year, there were increasing complaints about Daily News coverage voiced by some business people in the small -- population 11,651 -- but regionally important town of Effingham, which is about 100 miles east of St. Louis.

A group of downtown business people formed an organization called the Community Support Group, which complained that the Daily News had grown "sensationalistic" under the leadership of Jo Ann McNaughton-Kade, her husband, executive editor Chris Kade, and Peter Kotz, a 32-year-old who previously had worked only on alternative papers.

These business leaders were particularly upset by the paper's reporting about the circumstances of the death of a man who had checked himself into the emergency room of the locally respected St. Anthony Hospital with an apparently minor self-inflicted wound.

In a series of stories and editorials, the paper contended the hospital had violated state-required procedures that might have saved the man's life.

Critics, however, said the stories had crossed the line between objective journalism and irresponsible advocacy.

Their complaints were largely disregarded by the Kades and Kotz, who contended the business leaders wanted the Daily News to return to a Snoozy, boosterish paper.

However, when the paper published a graphic account of a sexual assault, the complaints found a sympathetic ear in Joseph McNaughton.

The 73-year-old publisher, who also owns several radio stations, had left day-to-day control of the paper to the younger generation since 1985. …

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