Landmark sale came as a surprise to many

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By The Staff

I often say that change isn't such a bad thing. Change shakes things up a little bit. Change keeps us from holding the line for the status quo. It keeps us on our toes. It makes life ... interesting. I got a taste of that last week.

I came to work Thursday morning and was greeted with a short message from a fellow editor - check your e-mail now. She'd forwarded to me a link to an article that would shape the rest of our day.

With little warning, we'd learned through a sister paper, the Virginian Pilot that our parent company, Landmark Communications Inc.,was selling its crown jewel - the Weather Channel and its subsidiary, Weather.com.

Many folks don't know that we're part of the same family. LCI owns Landmark Community Newspapers - the owner of the Henry County Local and other newspapers throughout the region.

LCNI president Mike Abernathy, and LCI chairman of the Board Frank Batten Jr., both said the method by which most employees found out about the sale - the Pilot article - wasn't the way LCI intended to let us know.

It was, to say the least, a shock to nearly everyone in the company.

We are, as some could imagine, quite apprehensive about what it all means.

The phone calls were flying from paper to paper, general manager to general manager, and editor to editor.

It was all we could talk about Thursday. We're still trying to make sense of it all. We still have more questions than answers.

And what does it all mean? Well, that we don't know yet. In reality, things shouldn't change that much, regardless of who buys the papers.

We do know that the papers will go on, and we'll continue to report the news.

The sale saddens me greatly. LCNI has a wonderful code of ethics and strong business principals. One of the things that attracted me to this company was a mission statement regarding the treatment of employees.

I've worked for a handful of media companies in my short career, and I can honestly say Landmark is one of the best. I can only hope the new owners will be as good, whoever they may be.

Jonna Spelbring Priester can be reached at editor@hclocal.com.