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Yes! Weekly reveals details of Surry County media war

November 14th, 2007 · No Comments

This week’s edition of Yes! Weekly in Greensboro reports the inside story of a media battle between two daily newspapers based in Mount Airy.

“Two rival newspapers duke it out in Surry County” by staff writer Amy Kingsley uses court documents to describe the “dastardly plot” conceived by publishers Mike Milligan, then with The Mount Airy News, and Rebel Good, then with the Elkin Tribune, to cripple the two publications before starting a new, competing five-day daily called the Surry Messenger.

Heartland Publications LLC in Connecticut bought the Mount Airy and Elkin newspapers in May along with about 14 other publications owned by Mid-South Management Co. Inc.

After Milligan and Good quit their jobs, founded Surry Publishing Group and launched the Surry Messenger, Heartland Publications sued the two and Milligan’s son Kevin, a third former Mid-South publisher, seeking compensation for damages to Heartland’s operations and an injunction that would prevent Surry Publishing Group from using documents and other information allegedly taken from The News and the Tribune.

In their response to the lawsuit, the defendants have denied Heartland Publications’ allegations and instead suggested that the lawsuit is intended to impede their new business.

Yes! Weekly’s story describes the run-up to the three publishers’ decisions to quit their jobs with Heartland Publications and recounts Heartland’s version of the actions Milligan and Good took to encourage former staff members to quit work and join the new publishing group financed by Mount Airy contractor and commercial-business developer C. Richard Vaughn.

The lawsuit filed in Surry County Superior Court may not be resolved before midsummer, Surry Publishing Group’s attorney told Yes! Weekly.

In the lawsuit’s latest development, reported Nov. 6 by Sherry Youngquist in the Winston-Salem Journal, Milligan and Good agreed not to use any documents they created or acquired while with The News and the Elkin Tribune.

In a recent front-page note to its readers, the Surry Messenger said it also agreed not to comment about the lawsuit.

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