The ownership group of the Lexington County Chronicle recently expanded their reach in South Carolina, where their history dates back to the 1890s.
Vince Johnson, current group publisher and co-owner of the Chronicle, and Jack and Kyle Osteen, who purchased the Chronicle in 2021, purchased the Bluffton-based newspaper group of The Bluffton Sun and Hilton Head Sun. The transaction closed Aug. 31.
The Osteen family has owned The Item newspaper in Sumter since its inception in 1894, where Johnson currently serves in the publisher role. Osteen, Osteen and Johnson also own Gulf Coast Media, which operates four community newspapers in Baldwin County, Alabama.
Since the Osteens purchased the Chronicle in 2021, the paper has redesigned its print and online products to deliver readers more engaging content, adding to the paper’s editorial staff to expand its news offerings. The Chronicle has also launched the annual Lexington’s Best contest and the quarterly culture and tourism magazine Lakeside.
As part of the change in Bluffton, former owner and publisher Kevin Aylmer — who has owned Lowcountry Local Media since 2017 — is planning to retire. Aylmer will assist in the ownership transition.
"We are pleased to have served the readers of The Bluffton Sun and Hilton Head Sun for the past six years. We are proud of the newspapers we produce and are confident the Osteens will continue the tradition of providing timely local news and information going forward," Aylmer said.
The Osteen/Johnson companies are known for quality journalism in print and online and as an innovator in publishing local news. The group plans to build on the success of The Bluffton Sun and Hilton Head Sun.
"We're excited to continue the legacy of this important local news operation in Bluffton and Hilton Head," the company said in a statement. "The fact that every resident receives the publication for free is a great resource for readers and is ideal for advertisers, and these are phenomenal communities for local news."
The new ownership group plans to retain current staff positions and add to the local staff in the coming months.
"Much like the previous ownership and current staff, we value authentic relationships with our communities and news that is extremely local," the company said. "Our commitment is that we'll listen to the Bluffton and Hilton Head communities and deliver the news you want and need to know."
The Bluffton Sun is delivered bi-monthly to more than 26,000 homes in the greater Bluffton and Okatie communities. The Hilton Head Sun is delivered monthly to more than 26,000 homes in the greater Hilton Head area. Both newspapers are delivered via USPS, safe and dry in readers' mailboxes.
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