The Chronicle closing its doors

A sometimes-contentious local newspaper war has come to an end with what could be called a “print treaty.”

The Chronicle, which has operated in Laurel/Jones County since 2012, will print its final edition on Wednesday.

Emmerich Newspapers, Inc. which owns and operates The Chronicle, and Gin Creek Publishing, which owns and operates The Laurel Leader-Call, have reached an agreement that will result in the closing of The Chronicle. The Laurel Leader-Call will begin printing with Emmerich’s print operation in McComb by Aug. 1.

“We were hoping to continue The Chronicle as our own newspaper, but Jim Cegielski and his staff proved tough competitors,” Wyatt Emmerich, president and CEO of Emmerich Newspapers said in a written statement. “After five years, it was time to accept the reality of the market. Now Jim can have a healthier product and my company can get a good printing contract, so we are both better off. We have begun this partnership in a spirit of cooperation and look forward to a long and prosperous relationship. We are now working together to make the Laurel Leader-Call the best possible paper it can be for Laurel and Jones County.”

Emmerich opened The Chronicle days after the CNHI-owned Leader-Call closed its doors and current LL-C owner Jim Cegielski acquired the name and subscription list of the 100-year-old newspaper. Cegielski entered  into the local newspaper business with the weekly ReView of Jones County in 2007.

Over the years, the two papers often took shots at each other, and it wasn’t unusual for public officials or customers to play the two papers against each other. None of that matters now to the owners of the papers, who struck a deal that benefits them both and will be best for the community.

“My company looks forward to working with Jim Cegielski and his staff at the Laurel Leader-Call as their printer,” Emmerich said. “We believe we can add value to their operation. We have modern, computerized presses with great color capacity to help bring the best newsprint product possible to Laurel.

“We are saddened by the loss of jobs and are grateful to our staff for their years of hard work and dedication. We are optimistic that in this period of low unemployment, our skilled employees will find new jobs quickly.”

Emmerich was lauded by the Mississippi Press Association and local Chamber of Commerce for saving most of those employees after the Leader-Call, under its previous ownership, shut down the operation.

“We have been competing against much larger corporations in this market since we opened our doors 10 years ago as The ReView of Jones County,” said Cegielski, Gin Creek Publishing and Leader-Call owner. “It is a testament to the skill, loyalty and intestinal fortitude of my staff that we have been able to not only survive, but to thrive in a market that isn’t really large enough to support two newspapers.”

The ReView and the Leader-Call have been printed in Monroeville, Ala., since coming to the market in 2007.

“I am deeply grateful for the wonderful working relationship and personal friendship that we have built with Publisher Bo Bolton and his staff at The Monroe Journal, who have printed our paper out of Monroeville, Ala., for the past decade,” Cegielski said. “This move is certainly no reflection on the level of service and quality of the product that they provided us for all of these years.

“However, being able to become a valued customer and partner with a highly respected and successful publishing company like Emmerich Newspapers instead of continuing a competition that wasn’t benefiting either newspaper, nor the community, was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

“I’m happy that I will be able to print the 106-year-old Laurel Leader-Call in the State of Mississippi and I look forward to working with Wyatt Emmerich, Publisher Jack Ryan of the Enterprise-Journal and his staff in McComb to help make the Leader-Call bigger, better and more colorful than ever.

“Thank you to our readers and advertisers for all of your support. We look forward to serving this community for another 106 years.”

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