Southern Newspapers Inc. completed its acquisition of the Lawton Constitution, this week, as a new publisher takes charge.
Southern Newspapers, a privately-owned company headquartered in Houston, purchased the paper from local attorneys Bill Burgess Jr. and Brad Burgess, who acquired it in 2012 from longtime local owners Steve and Don Bentley.
The Lawton Constitution, with a daily circulation of 15,000 and a Sunday circulation of 17,000, is the third largest paper in Oklahoma.
“We’re very pleased the Burgess brothers chose our company to succeed them as owner of The Lawton Constitution," said Lissa Walls, owner of Southern Newspapers Inc. "The newspaper has a wonderful history of support for the community, which we fully intend to continue and enhance."
Southern is a family owned company founded by Walls' father, community newspaper pioneer Carmage Walls. The Constitution is its 16th newspaper. The company also owns community newspapers in Texas and Alabama.
“Newspapers face many challenges today, but the basic challenge — to serve and build communities — has not changed even in the era of social media and digital transmission of the news," Walls said. "We’re committed to meeting that challenge in Lawton.”
New Publisher Dennis Wade shares that vision.
Wade began his newspaper career with Southern Newspapers in the advertising sales department at the Baytown Sun in Baytown, Texas. He moved on to be an advertising director at locations across Texas and has served as publisher of several newspapers, including the Alvin Advertiser in Alvin, Texas and the Dallas Fort Worth Business Journal. He also worked as Vice President of Eagle Tribune Publishing Company and president of Granite Publications.
He is married with two adult children.
“I am delighted to be in Lawton doing what I have done and love to do in this great industry for many years," Wade said. "We consider it a privilege and honor to have the opportunity to carry on the great tradition of unique local news and information provided to the people that make up this wonderful community. “
Lawton itself and the strong history of quality journalism made the Constitution an attractive acquisition for Southern.
"In my visits to Lawton, I’ve been very impressed with the community’s many strengths and assets," Walls said. "We also are pleased to have a local newspaper leader as strong and as experienced as Dennis Wade."
Brad Burgess said he and his brother are proud to have played a small role in the history of the Lawton Constitution.
“We have been honored to work alongside the most talented writers, photographers and staff in Southwest Oklahoma,” Brad Burgess said. “The experience of being a publisher for the Lawton Constitution was a true honor and learning experience.
“We are both grateful for that experience and wish Southern Newspapers good fortune on their new endeavor.”