Troutman Media buys Cassville Democrat

Feb 1, 2023

The Cassville Democrat has been corporately owned since 2004, and on Jan. 1, 2023, the 151-year-old publication will once again be locally owned.

The Cassville Democrat has been corporately owned since 2004, and on Jan. 1, 2023, the 151-year-old publication will once again be locally owned.

Kyle and Jordan Troutman, current editor and reporter at the paper and owners of Troutman Media LLC, have purchased the Cassville Democrat from CherryRoad Media, effective on Jan. 1.

“I cannot express how excited Jordan and I are to take over ownership of the Cassville Democrat,” Kyle Troutman said. “This is an incredible opportunity not only for our family and professionally, but even more for the Cassville area community. “Newspapers are the backbone of democracy and society, and returning the Democrat to local ownership will help foster the ties between the paper and the community.”

Jordan said buying the publication is important to her because of her connection to the communities it covers.

“I have lived in this area, specifically Cassville, for most of my adult life,” she said. “I was raised in these communities, and I am raising my children here. It is extremely important for us to be community minded. We aim to operate with an open-door policy. We want to engage and be part of this community while simultaneously using our business to give the people what they need and deserve. This is what we are building for you, as well as for our own daughters.”

The Cassville Democrat was established in 1871 by John Ray, a native of Barren County, Kentucky, who moved to Barry County in 1850. Ray had been a surgeon in the Union army during the Civil War. He published the Cassville Democrat until his death in 1889.

Ownership of the paper moved through the Ray family on to Bob Mitchell, Charles Ray’s grandson, through his youngest daughter, Katherine. Mitchell retained ownership of the Cassville Democrat up to the mid-1990s when, after more than 120 years of single–family ownership, he sold the publication to Mike and Lisa Schlichtman.

In 2004, the Schlichtmans sold the then 132-year-old publication to the Rust Communications newspaper chain, which owned the property until March, when it was sold to CherryRoad Media.

Jeremy Gulban, CEO of CherryRoad Technologies, said when participating in a panel discussion at the Nebraska newspaper convention, another participant was a young couple who had just purchased their hometown newspaper.

“In hearing their story I realized that local ownership, when possible, is really the right answer for small community newspapers,” he said. “Traditionally, this had been the model, but it has not been utilized lately because of a lack of motivated, younger people who are willing to take on the challenge. I looked around our portfolio of newspapers and saw that the Cassville Democrat was a good fit for this model with Kyle and Jordan.”

Gulban said in making the transition, he hopes CherryRoad will still be involved in helping newspapers thrive.

“CherryRoad’s overall goal in this initiative has been to protect local newspapers from the negative consequences of technology changes that keep occurring,” he said. “We felt like if we owned the newspaper, we could bring technology into the operation as a positive force and prevent the destruction of local newspapers that we have seen caused by technology changes over the last two decades. Our goal is to continue to support the Troutmans going forward with our technology. We hope that local ownership partnered with supportive technology can be a model for other local newspapers.”

Kyle said by returning the newspaper to local control, readers and residents will benefit greatly.

“If you call and have a question, you’ll speak to us,” he said. “If you need to renew a subscription, you’ll speak to us. If you have to submit a legal or want to place an ad, you’ll speak to us. The overwhelming majority of our processes will again be handled in-house. We hope to make things straightforward and simple.”

Kyle said news content-wise, changes may come slowly.

“We are planning to shift away from some of the projects we have done annually, especially ones with no local content, and plan to introduce some new projects in the coming year to highlight all parts of the community we all live in,” Troutman said. “As a newspaper, it is our job to inform, first and foremost, but we hope to also engage, entertain and inspire by sharing stories from our neighbors and friends. This newspaper has been here 151 years — it belongs to you, and we aim to deliver a product you deserve.”

Through all the changes this year, Gulban said this is a positive step for a small-town newspaper.

“I think this is a great outcome for the Cassville community,” he said. “As I have come to know Kyle and Jordan over the past year, I see two people who care about the community deeply and are willing to take the risk to dive headfirst into owning this newspaper. This represents an opportunity for long-term, stable ownership of the Cassville Democrat. I am so happy that they are willing to take on this challenge, and we will be here to support them and help them to succeed.”

Kyle moved to Cassville in 2014 from Searcy, Arkansas, where he worked for The Daily Citizen as a news reporter, sports editor and designer. He was hired to be editor of the Democrat on Jan. 13, 2014, and he was made editor of The Monett Times, as well, in July of that year.

In 2017, Kyle was named William E. James/Missouri Outstanding Young Journalist for daily newspapers, and in 2022, he won a Golden Dozen Award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Jordan is a graduate of Southwest High School and was hired as a reporter at the Cassville Democrat in August 2018. She and Kyle wed in October 2020 and have two daughters, ages 7 and 1.

At the Democrat, Jordan will continue reporting in special projects and will take on the office manager role, and Kyle will take the lead in news reporting, sports coverage and design.

Vicky Abraham, sales executive at the paper, will continue in her role, as well.