EFFINGHAM, Ill. — Paul Semple, who began his newspaper career nearly four decades ago as business manager of the Effingham Daily News, has announced he will retire as publisher of the paper and the Shelbyville Daily Union on March 31.
“The EDN and the newspaper industry have been good to me,” said Semple. “I’ve traveled to the four corners of the country, all over the Midwest, South and from Florida to southern Maine, and back to Effingham.”
Semple twice held the publisher’s role at The Daily News, initially from 1992 to 1999, and then again from 2012 to present. He’s been publisher of the Shelbyville paper since 2008.
Semple has also served as the Midwest Division Manager for Park Newspapers, former owner of The Daily News; a traveling business executive for Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc., current owner of The Daily News; and chief financial officer for CNHI’s Midwest Division.
He was one of a handful of managers who helped launch CNHI in February of 1997, when it bought 13 newspapers, including Effingham, from the Media General group, for whom he worked at the time.
“We kindly called them the 13 original colonies,” said Semple. CNHI now owns newspapers, magazines and websites in more than 130 communities in 23 states.
Donna Barrett, CNHI’s president and chief executive officer, said she fondly remembers the company’s early years and Semple’s contribution.
“It was an exciting time to form a media company,” she said. “We knew we were on solid ground with executives like Paul Semple to help us move boldly ahead through the founding and subsequent years. He has been a pillar of knowledge. “
Known for his mannerly personality, financial expertise and executive acumen, Semple started at The Daily News in 1979, and moved up from business manager to controller in 1985. His travels included crisscrossing the United States and also Canada and Europe.
“I’ve met local, state and national leaders in my office, in their offices and at forums, to discuss the needs of local communities,” he said. “Directly or indirectly, I’ve written obituaries for my father and father-in-law, my wedding, and births of my daughter and son. It’s a great business to be involved with and has been very rewarding.”
Semple said his greatest satisfaction came from informing the public about the small and big things that make local news: how the taxpayers’ money is spent, holding government officials accountable, and connecting businesses with consumers of their goods and services.
“There are many ingredients to a successful community newspaper,” he said. “But a solid coverage of local news and continually stirring the interest of the communities the newspaper serves are vital. A newspaper must inform, educate, entertain and reflect the community it is serving.”
Technology highlights of his career, Semple said, included full-page pagination in the 1980s and digital delivery of news and advertising on newspaper websites and mobile phones in recent years. “Information is now accessible anywhere our audience has a Web browser,” he noted.
Semple and his wife, Janice, are longtime residents of Effingham and plan to remain active in the community.
The Effingham Daily News and the Shelbyville Daily Union are CNHI newspapers. Based in Montgomery, Alabama, CNHI is a leading publisher of local news and information. Its newspapers, websites and specialty publications serve communities in 23 states.