Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Press Release
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

The end of an era

Franklin sells publishing business to Johnson family


Terry Bullock

The new owners visited the offices of the newspapers last week. The purchase was finalized on Friday, May 31. Pictured: (Left to right) Matt McMillan (CEO), Carter Johnson (owner), Tim Franklin, and Gene Johnson (owner).

Tim Franklin's group of northern Minnesota print and digital news publications are now part of neighboring Northstar Media, Inc., a company owned by Gene and Carter Johnson.

Titles sold include the Pine County Courier in Sandstone, Askov American, Hinckley News, Star Gazette in Moose Lake, the Evergreen shopper, Minnesota Flyer aviation magazine, and Hinckley Print, as well as related web and mobile sites, events and niche products.

"I am blessed to find another family owner to continue to provide news and advertising to our longtime readers," said Tim Franklin. "This is a sad day for me and also a happy day. I first and foremost want to thank all of the employees I have had over the years, past and present. Without them, we could not have produced award-winning publications year after year. They are family to me. I also feel blessed to have worked in this area for so many years, first in Pine County, then in Carlton County. The support from our readers and advertisers allowed us to grow from one newspaper to four newspapers, the Minnesota Flyer, a shopper, and then later the retail store in Sandstone."

"This fit is rather natural as we have adjoining newspapers," said Gene Johnson. "Tim has been clearly committed to providing news and advertising in print and digital with local and regional appeal. Community newspapers really become the ownership of the communities themselves. We are here to produce it."

Franklin will be staying on for a few months to help with the transition. "Tim's knowledge and trust with readers, advertisers and employees is important," said Matt McMillan, CEO for the Johnsons. "We're planning to recruit a group publisher as we join Tim's operations with our Northstar Media and Kanabec Publications divisions. In the meantime, we're pleased Tim's agreed to stay on this summer."

Northstar Media and Kanabec Publications includes the Isanti-Chisago County Star, Pine City Pioneer, Kanabec County Times, Advertiser as well as the printing facility in Cambridge.

The Johnsons also own a suburban group of publications based out of White Bear Lake, Minn., a group of Wisconsin publications, and ownership in Publishers Printing, Inc., a central plant in Amery, Wis. "Community newspapers today can be successful in a group with a central printing plant, production and business offices," Johnson said. "We've been fortunate to handle printing for Tim Franklin's company for the past 10 years."

"I want to give thanks to everyone who has helped us in this incredible 16-and-a-half-year journey, from moving to the area not knowing one person, to being friends with so many from Pine to Carlton counties," said Franklin. "Newspapers make a difference - since the beginning of the printing press - and are more important today in the digital and print age. Weekly newspapers make a difference in their communities. Thank you for allowing us this wonderful ride. I would ask you to please support the new owners as you have supported me for all these years."

"Publisher-owners like Tim understand the value of community and local news," McMillan said. "Tim shared a testimonial about a regular advertiser who recently told him his best marketing response comes from his campaign to reach his readers. We know people who read these print and digital editions are among the best engaged residents including being the best consumers in any market. Readers care about community. Tim's worked hard to build trust with readers. We plan to keep his work going."

"As a newspaper owner, I have always thought of us as just stewards of these great institutions," Franklin said. "The community tells us when we are doing good things, and not so good things. I know my wife Mary, and my children Emilee and Savannah, will have cherished memories of owning these publications. We have found a new owner who will be committed to the same principles of putting out great products, and at the same time, taking care of my former employees."

"We invite your cooperation providing ideas, suggestions, and recommendations," Johnson said. "Our goal is to be the best source of local information."


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