For the first time in its storied 62-year history, the Tri-State Defender will be both locally owned and operated.
Following an extended period of discussion and negotiations, Real Times Media, Inc. (RTM) has agreed to sell the assets of Tri-State Defender, Inc. (TSD) to BEST Media Properties, Inc., a Tennessee Corporation established by current TSD President and Publisher, Bernal E. Smith II.
Smith structured the new company – including the establishment of a local investment group that will comprise its board of directors – to accelerate the historic publication's move forward into the digital and multi-media age.
"We have a strong team of well-respected business leaders that we will introduce to the community at a later date," said Smith. "We are poised for growth to move swiftly and profitably into diverse multi-media arenas, including print, web/digital, television, social media/mobile and radio.
"The TSD is a great brand with significant historical meaning and respect throughout the Greater Memphis community. We plan to leverage the brand for future growth and impact here in the Mid-South and ultimately on a global basis."
Smith said The New Tri-State Defender will continue to work closely with RTM on digital strategies and national advertising buys, maintaining a positive and mutually beneficial relationship.
"We have established strategic sales and back-office relationships with Real Times that will allow us to have greater reach as an independent than we otherwise would have," he said.
"I want to sincerely thank Hiram Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media, and the entire RTM Board for their support and vision relative to making the deal happen. We collectively felt TSD would be a stronger voice for the community as a locally owned and operated entity," Smith said.
"I am appreciative of the opportunity to take it forward and on to the next level as the majority owner with a great team to support my vision."
Jackson provided his insight on the deal.
"The past few years have seen tremendous growth for Real Times Media – growth which The Tri-State Defender has been an integral part. However, as the organizations grew, TSD's value as a community asset became increasingly evident. Not just as a voice for the community, but a true cornerstone. That is why I am certain under the full leadership of Bernal and his team, the brand will continue to thrive," Jackson said.
"I look forward to partnering with Bernal and the TSD as RTM evolves its digital platform and builds a national ad network."
The TSD will continue its normal operations through the transition. Readers should not experience any disruption to the print or digital formats of the publication.
A formal press conference will be held (date to be announced) to share more details of the transition and of new developments forthcoming to enhance the reach and relevance of The New Tri-State Defender.