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‘This is a local mission’: KERA, Denton Record-Chronicle discusses acquisition

‘This is a local mission’: KERA, Denton Record-Chronicle discusses acquisition

‘This is a local mission’: KERA, Denton Record-Chronicle discusses acquisition
October 26
14:59 2022

The Denton Record-Chronicle and KERA executives answered questions concerning KERA’s acquisition of the Record-Chronicle at a town hall event last night in Hubbard Hall at Texas Woman’s University.

The move was announced on Sept. 27, with the plan of completing the acquisition by 2023, and was aided by National Trust for Local News, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping community newspapers. Record-Chronicle owner and publisher Bill Patterson said the move will help make the newspaper a “sustainable news operation.”

“[This is an] exciting opportunity that’s new and different and innovative in community journalism,” Patterson said. “[We’re] developing a partnership between a newspaper and a broadcast operation that has a lot of reach into this community.”

Patterson said KERA became a part of the conversation after he had contacted the National Trust in 2021. KERA President and CEO Nico Leone said 22 percent of Denton County residents watch KERA TV and they intend to cover news all over the metroplex.

“We’ve got a partnership going in Fort Worth, we’ve got a pretty good-sized newsroom in Dallas and it really helps us cover the whole metro and sound like the metro that we serve,” Leone said. “We’re excited to work with the Denton Record-Chronicle as a base to expand what we do here in Denton County, not just in news, but also in arts and education and some of the other areas of our work.”

Alongside Patterson and Leone was Fraser Nelson, chief partnership officer, managing director and co-founder of the National Trust for Local News. Nelson and the National Trust helped kick-start the conversation between KERA and the Record-Chronicle. 

Nelson said the National Trust’s role in this setup is different from their other models. This is the first time a community paper will be purchased by a local public media station. This move has sparked interest by other media stations to possibly follow this path. 

The goal of the National Trust is to help “keep local news in local hands,” Nelson said. The nonprofit organization aids newspapers to prevent closures and news deserts.

“Our role is not to come into Denton and help create this partnership, and then stay here forever and change the way things are running,” Nelson said. “This is a local activity. This is a local mission — a local vision. And we’re here to support, not to run things.”

Patterson emphasized the importance of “keeping up with the growth” of Denton County, which the Record-Chronicle is currently struggling with. One goal of the acquisition is to increase and diversify content, going into video, podcasting, audio and other sources of news.  Another goal is for the content of the Record-Chronicle to be run by the newspaper, using the resources that KERA will provide.

“We’ve got a lot of back office work in integration to do — we’ve got to get the newsrooms working together fully in sync,” Leone said. “Then, I think we’ll start really deploying a lot of our different channels to cross-promote and start building an audience together.”

Attendees of the town hall asked questions on a variety of issues. One of the attendees, Chad Withers, found that many of the responses from the speakers were not specific.

“I wasn’t discouraged at all, and I’m still happy about [the acquisition],” said Withers, the Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios general manager. “I would have liked to have heard a little more practical things that are going to be implemented, and I feel like they were still a little vague about that.”

In general, Patterson said that the reaction from the community has been “very, very strong” in favor of the acquisition. 

“People are excited about it,” Patterson said. “They think it’s great — they understand and can see the sustainability going forward with this kind of partnership so that Denton has a community news source for years to come.”

Featured Image: (From left to right) Fraser Nelson, Denton Record-Chronicle executive editor Sean McCrory and Bill Patterson speak during a town hall on Oct. 25, 2022. Photo by Matt Iaia

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Ismael Belkoura

Ismael Belkoura

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