Newspaper Publisher Frederick J. Wilson has resigned from South County Newspapers which publishes The South County Independent and The Northeast Independent.
Wilson started the company in 1997 to compete with The Narragansett Times, which his family had owned and he ran until the mid-1980s. That paper, along with many others, is now owned by the Journal Register Co., based in New Jersey.
The South County Independent covers South Kingstown, Narragansett and the surrounding area, while The Northeast Independent covers North Kingstown and East Greenwich.
Betty Cotter is the managing editor for The South County Independent and The Northeast Independent. She said Wilson’s separation was entirely amicable and he will continue to serve as president of the board of directors and be listed on the masthead of the papers as publisher emeritus.
“He has an enormous amount of experience,” Cotter said. “He just needs to find something that will fit with what he’s doing, and he needs to find a market big enough to support his talent.”
The two papers are an independent corporation owned by a group of investors, most of whom are personal friends of Wilson whom he brought into the organization himself, according to Cotter. Cotter said Wilson had been talking with the investors for months about his departure.
Cotter said the papers are going to continue business without a publisher.
“We have a cooperative relationship with The Newport Daily News,” she said, “so there is some management talent across the bay we can use. We’re not going to have a publisher, per se.”
Albert K. “Buck” Sherman, publisher of The Newport Daily News said the Independent papers will continue business as usual, and the Daily News will continue to do their printing and billing, as well as assisting them with a number of other services.
Sherman offered his take on the situation.
“All I know is that Rick Wilson decided that he would leave the paper that he started and go onto something more profitable.”
Wilson did not return telephone calls placed by Providence Business News to his home.