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Restoration NewsMedia to manage 2 Illinois newspapers

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A media company formed by North Carolina’s last two independent daily newspapers has been hired to manage a pair of family-owned publications in eastern Illinois.

Kathleen Lewis, publisher of the Robinson Daily News and the Daily Record of Lawrenceville, signed a management agreement with Restoration NewsMedia in late December. Executives for the North Carolina company will begin overseeing operations at the papers this month.

“Our newspapers have each been covering their communities for more than 100 years, and we want to make sure they remain strong for 100 more,” Lewis said. “This partnership will help us put the Daily News and Daily Record in the best possible position for the future of local news.”

President and CEO Keven Zepezauer and General Manager Tracy McLamb will work on-site at the Robinson and Lawrenceville newspapers at various intervals and Restoration NewsMedia’s leaders in advertising, news and circulation will also serve as consultants.

“Our goal is to preserve the essential local journalism the Daily News and Daily Record provide while finding ways to strengthen the publications’ revenue and enhance their services to readers and advertisers online,” Zepezauer said.

The Daily News of Robinson celebrated its centennial last year and has been published by the Lewis family since Fernando Wood “F.W.” Lewis, then editor and publisher of the weekly Robinson Constitution, established the daily newspaper in 1919. His son, Kent Van Lewis, succeeded him as editor and publisher in 1929.

Kent Lewis died in 1975, leaving the paper to son Larry H. Lewis. His wife, Kathy Lewis, took the reins upon Larry’s death in September 2006.

The Lewises purchased the Lawrenceville Daily Record from the Armstrong family in 1967. The newspaper’s been published under that name since 1929, when George C. Armstrong purchased the weekly Lawrenceville Republican, increased publication frequency to daily and christened it the Daily Record. The Record’s predecessor was originally called the Star Spangled Banner, which launched in 1847 and survived several changes in name and ownership.

“A local newspaper is a vital community resource, and we have the utmost respect and admiration for the Daily News and Daily Record and their long legacies of service to their communities,” Zepezauer said. “We look forward to working with Kathy Lewis and her staffs at both publications to make these papers stronger so they can continue to carry out their mission.”

The management contract follows Restoration NewsMedia’s incorporation in April 2019 as a joint venture of The Wilson Times and The Daily Record of Dunn. The company formed to enable family-owned newspapers to leverage the efficiencies of larger media chains, including a consolidated printing center and hubs for news page design and advertising design. Morgan Dickerman, The Wilson Times’ fifth-generation family owner, and Bart Adams, who owns The Daily Record with siblings Brent Adams and Maere Kay Lashmit, serve as Restoration’s co-chairmen.

A company that seeks to balance digital growth with a sustained commitment to print, Restoration NewsMedia is a participant in the UNC Knight-Lenfest Table Stakes Newsroom Initiative’s third cohort at the University of North Carolina’s Hussman School of Journalism.

Restoration publishes two daily, one twice-weekly and five weekly newspapers, a weekly free-distribution shopper, a monthly arts and entertainment magazine and numerous special sections. The company also operates digital marketing agency Kingsdale Media, offers event ticketing services through and maintains regional car-shopping website

In addition to its own newspapers, Restoration NewsMedia provides contract pagination and advertising design services for partners in the print media industry.