Smith Communications acquires The Jones County News

Pictured in front of The Jones County News office are, from left, A. Mark Smith Sr., president & CEO; Josh Lurie, executive editor; Debbie Lurie-Smith, managing editor; and Matt Smith, general manager.

Photo by MARK SMITH JR./Staff

Smith Communications President and CEO A. Mark Smith Sr. announced the acquisition of The Jones County News Oct. 13, increasing the footprint of its community newspaper division.

The Jones County News has received numerous Georgia Press Association awards, including second place in General Excellent earlier this year.

The newspaper was owned by Josh Lurie and Debbie Lurie-Smith for 11 years. Both are staying involved in the business.

Lurie said keeping community journalism alive is imperative.

“This move is the best way to secure the future of The Jones County News and its role as a watchdog for our community,” he said. “The readers will notice little change, except for growth.”

Lurie said the advertising sales effort, which provides about 85 percent of a newspaper’s revenue, will provide financial stability for the future and more opportunities to tell the community’s story.

“Joining Smith communications is a natural fit for us,” he said. “I’ve worked with the Smith family for several years, helping to grow and improve their products. We’re just making it official.”

Lurie accepted the position of executive editor over all four newspapers – The Eatonton Messenger, Lake Oconee News, The Jones County News and The Baldwin Bulletin.

The Bulletin was just acquired in July.

Managing editor and former co-owner Debbie Lurie-Smith will stay in her position as an award-winning journalist who attends nearly all government meetings and stays in touch with law enforcement on issues affecting the community every day.

Lurie-Smith says she looks forward to the future.

“I’m proud to join Mark Smith and his staff of highly respected journalists,” she said. “The future is bright for The Jones County News, and I plan to be a part of it for many years to come.”

Smith Communications President and CEO A. Mark Smith Sr. represents the fifth generation of newspaper ownership in his family. His sons, Mark Jr. and Matt, make that six generations.

The family has lived in the Lake Country since purchasing The Eatonton Messenger in 1956.

I am pleased The Jones County News and Jones Living magazine will be joining our company,” he said. “Josh Lurie and Debbie Lurie-Smith and their staff have done a great job developing these award-winning publications. Their dedicated staff will be a tremendous help as we further grow our company."

Smith’s son, Matt Smith, has been named general manager of the The Jones County News, bringing his expertise in circulation and distribution and offering support where needed. He has been the general manager of The Bulletin since it was purchased.

Mark Smith Jr. is the vice president of advertising for Smith Communications and is the general manager of The Eatonton Messenger and Lake Oconee News.

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