Paper stays in local hands; Smith is new owner and publisher


Columbus County’s newspaper of record turns a new page Aug. 1, 2021, as Justin Smith, editor since 2018, becomes publisher as well. Smith has purchased the 125-year-old company from Les High and Stuart High Rogers.

The transaction “will allow The News Reporter to remain in local hands,” High said. “And that’s critical. Columbus County will have a local paper for years to come.”

High and Rogers will remain in consulting roles in coming months to assure a smooth transition.

Readers can expect The News Reporter to continue carrying out what Smith calls its “unique dual role of celebrating the many good things about Columbus County while also holding public officials and institutions accountable.

“It’s tricky to do both of those things at the same time, but that’s the role of community journalism, and that’s what The News Reporter has done for years,” he said.

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Smith resigned from his position on the Whiteville City Council effective today, saying that in his new position at the paper he would no longer be able to delegate city government coverage to others.