Salem Publishing to purchase Rolla Daily News

Salem Publishing and Phillips Media Group

Salem Publishing Company will acquire the Rolla Daily News and two other local publications from Phillips Media Group, the companies announced Friday. The sale is expected to become final Oct. 1.

Along with the Rolla Daily News, Salem Publishing Company purchased the Rolla Extra and the Pulaski County Weekly.

Salem Publishing owns Phelps County Focus, a weekly newspaper that was started by the company in August of 2017. Publisher Donald Dodd plans to combine features of the Focus and Rolla Daily News into one publication, and the newspaper will continue to be named Phelps County Focus.

“When we started the Focus four years ago, I never dreamed we would evolve this far this fast,” Dodd said. “I can’t begin to describe how proud I am of the staff and what they have accomplished in this short time.

“We have had tremendous community support. As far as the future of the Focus and the other two publications, we will continue to be hyper local with local, private ownership. We will grow. We will focus on the communities we serve.”

Tentative plans call for the Rolla Daily News to publish as normal Sept. 29, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, as a joint publication of Salem Publishing and Phillips Media. The Oct. 2 edition will be its final edition, ending a long run in the community.

Edward W. Sowers in 1942, with two silent partners, bought the weekly Rolla New Era. Sowers later bought full interest in the paper and soon changed the name to the Rolla Daily News. He continued as publisher in partnership with his wife, Alma, and three sons, Steve, Tom and Jim, until his death in 1982.

The brothers were associate publishers. Jim was in charge of the business management, Tom was in charge of advertising and Steve led the news staff. The Sowers eventually sold the Rolla Daily News to American Publishing Company, and it was later owned by Gatehouse Publishing, then Gannett.

Phillips Media bought the newspaper Sept. 1 and soon began negotiations with Salem Publishing, which also publishes The Salem News, a 102-year-old newspaper in adjacent Dent County, and its free distribution shopper, The Extra. Salem Publishing also owns Action Graphics Sign Company and a commercial printing operation.

Phillips Media also purchased the Baxter Bulletin in Mountain Home, Arkansas, and in Missouri, The Big Nickel in Joplin, the Kirksville Daily Express and the NEMO Trader in La Plata.

“I am happy we could come to an agreement that will benefit the readers of both papers and the community,” said Jim Holland, president of Phillips Media Group. “Like Salem Publishing, we are looking forward to the opportunities we now have in Missouri and the communities we will serve.”

Salem Publishing, which has been located in Salem since 1950, is also in the process of purchasing from Phillips Media Group the Sowers Building, built in 1952 and home to the Rolla Daily News. It is located on West 7th Street.

“We are excited to become part of downtown Rolla,” said Dodd. “The building fits our needs and is part of the newspaper history of this community. That makes it special also.”

Subscribers to the Rolla Daily News print edition will be added to circulation software of Phelps County Focus and receive that paper beginning with the Oct. 7 edition. Digital subscribers will obtain unlimited access to effective Oct. 1.

Ads scheduled to appear in the Rolla Daily News after Oct. 2 will appear in the Focus, which has a circulation of 4,000, as will legal and classified advertising.

More information on the transition for subscribers will appear in next week’s issues of Rolla Daily News and Phelps County Focus, as well as their websites. Advertisers with questions can contact Phelps County Focus’ Marcia Burns at or Rolla Daily News’ Anna Torres at