Lexington County Chronicle changes hands

Purchased by fifth generation South Carolina family newspaper publisher

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The Lexington County Chronicle and Fish Wrapper have been purchased by a family whose history with South Carolina newspapers dates back to the 1890s.

Jack and Kyle Osteen — part of the family that has owned The Sumter Item, a five-day-per-week paper covering that city and county east of Columbia, since its founding in 1894 — bought Lexington’s newspaper in September.

As part of this change, former owners Jerry and MacLeod Bellune — who founded the Chronicle in 1992, and eventually merged it with The Dispatch News, which began serving Lexington County in 1870 — are retiring.

"We appreciate the support of our advertisers and readers over more than 35 years. It has been a privilege and a blessing," the Bellunes said in a joint statement.

The Osteen company is known for quality journalism in print and online and is an innovator in publishing local news in many print and online formats. The family plans for similar innovations in Lexington.

“Newspapers across the nation are facing increasing challenges. We look forward to extending and expanding the success of the Chronicle, which has managed to survive and remain an important part of the community,” Jack and Kyle Osteen said in a joint statement. “We’re excited to put in place new leadership to serve our readers and advertisers for years to come.”

Parks Rogers will serve as publisher for the newly purchased Lexington-based media company. Rogers has worked for the Osteen’s company for nearly seven years as publisher of Gulf Coast Media in Alabama and group publisher of several Florida and New Mexico publishing companies. Rogers’ long publishing career includes stints in management at The State in Columbia and The Post and Courier in Charleston.

“I am delighted to return to the Midlands after my time in Alabama. Community newspapers are the sweet spot for delivering local, practical information readers can use every day,” Rogers said. “We think that if you live west of the river, your news should be based west of the river instead of coming in from outside.”

Jordan Lawrence will also join the Chronicle, leading the newsroom as managing editor. He comes to the newspaper after spending eight years working for Free Times, a free weekly newspaper covering Columbia and the greater Midlands. For the past two years, he led Free Times as its managing editor, helping oversee the paper’s merger with a weekly Columbia edition of The Post and Courier.

“Lexington County is a vital, quickly growing area of South Carolina, and one that is incredibly varied,” Lawrence said. “From the Town of Lexington’s rapidly rejuvenating downtown to Lake Murray to the more metropolitan Cayce and West Columbia, just on the Lexington side of the Congaree River, to the many small towns that dot the countryside, it’s an area that comprises several distinct communities. I’m excited to deliver news that meets the needs of these residents in the 21st century.”

In the coming weeks, the Chronicle will launch a redesign of its print edition and website. Stay tuned, both on the page and online, for further details. In addition, the paper will soon move into a new office in downtown Lexington.

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