NNA to honor distinguished community leader with 2020 Amos Award

Jul 29, 2020


PENSACOLA, Florida — Recognized as one of the highest and most dignified tributes in community journalism, the General James O. Amos Award is presented to a working or retired newspaperman who has provided distinguished service and leadership to the community press and his community.

Fourth-generation family newspaper Publisher Matthew Paxton will be honored during the National Newspaper Association’s 134th Annual Convention & Trade Show held online, where he will be virtually presented with the Amos Award on Saturday, Oct. 3, from 11:35 a.m.-12:05 p.m.

Paxton, president and publisher of The News-Gazette Corp. of Lexington, Virginia, and NNA past president, will be the 79th recipient of the Amos Award.

Nominated by both Anne Adams, publisher of The Recorder in Monterey, Virginia, and NNA Past President Chip Hutcheson, retired publisher, The Times Leader in Princeton, Kentucky, Paxton has made an impact for his willingness to lend a helping hand to his fellow community newspaper colleagues near and far.

“Matt is soft spoken, but his expertise speaks volumes,” Adams, 2017 Emma C. McKinney Award recipient, wrote in her nomination.

“I recall in 2018, when he joined other publishers nationwide to urge Congress to renege on the Canadian newsprint tariffs that threatened newspapers all over the U.S., which could have made printing 30% more expensive. Several of us were fortunate to hear from Matt directly about an issue we didn’t understand; he explained it, then asked us to lend our voices to that cause.

“Postal issues are a major headache for community newspapers all over the country. Most of us will never fully understand the jargon associated with USPS regulations. We came to rely heavily on Max Heath for interpretation for many years, and were greatly relieved when Matt stepped up to follow in Max’s path. Someone has to have a handle on this bureaucracy for the rest of us. Someone has to be a voice for small newspapers when it comes to lobbying Congress for changes. NNA has been our strongest ally in this regard, and we depend on people like Max, and now Matt, to spearhead that mission.”

Max Heath, postal consultant for NNA members and Landmark Community Newspapers in Shelbyville, Kentucky, wrote in a letter of support, “He is the epitome of a ‘general factotum’ who can play multiple positions and do so with diligence and professionalism.

“Matt is always ready to help. When I found it necessary to step aside as postal chair of NNA in 2018, my recommendation was Matt. And he ably took over the combined Government Relations/Postal Committee, which was created at the time. When a position on the Mailers' Technical Advisory Committee became available, Matt was the willing participant to join. He has a long history of providing assistance to Tonda Rush in NNA's work in Washington.”

In addition to his industry efforts on behalf of NNA, Paxton is a past president and recent board member of the Virginia Press Association.

Paxton is a 1976 graduate of the University of Virginia, where he earned a BA in economics. After four years in banking, he returned to the family business in 1980, where he started in advertising sales. After stints as advertising manager and business manager, he became publisher in 1994 when he bought the business from his father.

As publisher, he has managed the growth of the paper from one publishing day a week to twice a week in print, and daily online. The company has also added several niche publications including “Visiting Lexington and the Rockbridge Area” and “Valley of Virginia Properties.”

Other activities have included serving as president of the Dabney Lancaster Community College Foundation board and the Rockbridge Area Free Clinic board. Previous board directorships include the Lexington-Rockbridge Chamber of Commerce, Stonewall Jackson Hospital, Rockbridge Area Hospice Main Street Lexington and the Virginia Coalition for Open Government.

“Matt’s community members will attest to his devotion to his community, evidenced by his service on numerous boards and committees that serve the community interests,” Hutcheson, 2017 Amos Award winner, wrote in his nomination. “Matt has served as board chair for the Rockbridge Area Health Center. He has personally given and is working to raise $1.25 million for that agency’s new home.”

The Amos Award was established in 1938 in honor of Gen. James O. Amos, a pioneer Ohio journalist and member of the National Editorial Association — now known as the National Newspaper Association.

Past and present Amos Award winners are listed at https://bit.ly/3g7tVlK.

Established in 1885, the National Newspaper Association is the voice of America’s community newspapers and the largest newspaper association in the country. The nation’s community papers inform, educate and entertain nearly 150 million readers every week.