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Collierville Squared: Two weekly newspapers merge

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The owners of the town’s two weekly newspapers have announced that The Collierville Herald and The Collierville Independent will be joined, effective June 5.

The two longtime town publications will be combined into one newspaper, The Collierville Herald-Independent, according to Magic Valley Publishing owner Dennis Richardson, who bought both papers in the spring of 2019.

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner applauded the merger last week.

“I think one of the great things about living in Collierville is the news coverage and other benefits we receive from a local newspaper,” he said. “For many years I have read, not one, but two local news papers. I think it will be great to have the talents of both quality papers merged into one.”

Vice Mayor Maureen Fraser added that Collierville “is hungry for news that is only about Collierville.”

“This is no longer available except in our hometown newspapers  – The Collierville Herald and The Collierville Independent,” she said. “So, many residents and visitors look on social media for information, but many times, it is opinions, rather than facts. With the merger, Collierville will benefit by having the best of both papers and providing more in-depth coverage on the news that is important to Collierville.”

Founded in 1870, The Herald was purchased by newspaperman Van Pritchartt Jr. in 1988. He remained the newspaper’s editor and publisher until his death in 2007. The Herald was purchased by American Hometown Publishing in 2008.

Michael Ward, a journalist for The Herald from 2007 to 2016, said that both local papers “have striven to provide quality community journalism to the residents of Collierville.”

The Collierville Herald-Independent will continue that mission, with its presence as the town’s only hometown newspaper — the importance of which cannot be understated,” he added.

Collierville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Heuberger said both papers have historically offered the community “good news” coverage of “local school sports and activities, Chamber of Commerce events and town parks and recreation league opportunities.”

“I have always seen great value in community newspapers like The Collierville Herald and The Collierville Independent,” he added. “They showcase community businesses at a time we need to be shopping locally and investing in our community. Most importantly, the people who staff these newspapers work and live in the 

community they cover. They share our values and understand our community because they’re a part of it. The merger of these two newspapers is a natural evolution.”

Fred and Lola Eason, who co-owned the East Memphis Shoppers News, Memphis Offset Printing, The Consumer Times and The Southaven Press, bought The Independent in the 1990s and sold the paper to Suburban Community Newspapers in 2006.

The free paper was started in the 1980s by Barry Heffner. Steve Craven, who now works at the Germantown News, was the sales manager through the 1990s.

“At that time,” Craven said, “two papers in a small town was hard.”

Eason’s daughter, Kathy Garrett, worked in advertising for The Independent and The Herald during her 30-plus years in the newspaper business.

“I have much hope with the papers going together,” Garrett said. “These papers have great intentions in helping Collierville.”

Said Scott Whaley, group publisher of The Collierville Herald-Independent, “By merging the newspapers together it’s our intention to provide the citizens of Collierville with a publication that is both informative and entertaining.

“We hope our readers, as well as our advertisers, will recognize the importance of this venture and the community it serves,” he continued. “By combining the staffs of both newspapers, we have a top-notch staff of professional journalists and designers who have worked diligently to bring you this inaugural issue.”