Seaton Publishing signs contract to buy JC, Wamego papers

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The Manhattan Mercury’s owner is buying four other regional newspapers.

Seaton Publishing Company of Manhattan has signed a contract to buy the Junction City Daily Union, effective May 1, according to the Mercury. The 103-year-old company is taking over the Daily Union in a deal that also involves two other four-generation newspaper families.

The deal also includes the First Infantry Division Post weekly newspaper, which the Daily Union produces under a contract with the U.S. Army; and the Wamego Smoke Signal and Wamego Times, both weekly newspapers in Pottawatomie County.

The combination will allow subscribers in all the publications to have better access to news and information from across the region, said Ned Seaton, president of Seaton Publishing and publisher of The Mercury. It will also allow businesses to reach good potential local customers throughout the three-county Manhattan market.

“We keep hearing, over and over, that our subscribers want to know more about what’s going on right around us,” he said. “We feel that this is a big step forward in providing that service to them.

“For more than a decade, we’ve all seen that the chambers of commerce of all three communities have held their annual retreat together,” he said. “It really is one region, with a lot of shared interests. We hope to build on that.”

The Daily Union changed hands in 2016, when Chris Walker bought it from Junction City’s Montgomery family, which had published the paper since 1892. Walker continues to own and manage the Emporia Gazette, made famous by his great-grandfather, William Allen White, the best-known journalist in state history. His family company also owns the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle, the St. Mary’s Star, and other publications. He said: “We are excited for the Seatons and they will do great job publishing the Junction City Daily Union. The Daily Union has a great staff and combining with Seatons will help create great news products for the community.

“It has been exciting to see Montgomerys, Walkers and Seatons, all four-generation newspaper families, work together to create best possible future for the Daily Union.”

John G. Montgomery, the paper’s publisher from 1973 to 2016, said: “I am pleased that the Seatons have purchased The Daily Union. The Seaton and Montgomery families have known each other for three generations. They are known for their investment in good journalism. I feel certain they will invest in a better Daily Union.”

The Seaton family has owned and operated the Manhattan Mercury since 1915. Edward Seaton, the company chairman, has been at the paper since 1969. He is the former chairman of the board that awards the Pulitzer Prize, the past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Inter American Press Association. He is in the Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame, as is John G. Montgomery. Ned Seaton, the current publisher and editor-in-chief, is Edward’s older son.

Seaton Publishing is affiliated with other family-owned newspapers in Winfield and Arkansas City, Kan.; Hastings and Alliance, Neb.; Spearfish, S.D.; Sheridan, Wyo.; and Grand Junction, Colo. They are all separate companies and operate independently.

In Junction City, Ned Seaton said the Daily Union will also operate as a separate company, as will the Wamego publications.

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