News-Gazette now in hands of family ownership

They’re truly a daring duo, Rochelle and Juder Stidham.

They recently purchased the Osceola News-Gazette and are investing their time, money and energy into this newspaper and into this community.

They care about you, dear reader, and have promised to deliver the news and stories of this community with pride and integrity, as it has been the tradition here at the News-Gazette for

128 years.

“It was important to find a new owner for the Osceola Gazette that offered hands-on leadership, a firm commitment to the Osceola community and a long term desire to grow a local media business.  We were incredibly fortunate to find new owners Rochelle and Juder Stidham, as they represent all that we could have hoped for in a local, high-integrity leadership team. I couldn’t be prouder of them and happier for the entire Osceola Gazette team,” said Lyle Beasley, managing partner of  West End Holdings, which formerly owned American Hometown Publishing.

Rochelle Stidham is the new publisher and has been running newspapers in Kentucky, Texas, Tennessee and Oklahoma for nearly 20 years. She’s been in the business for 34 years, and hasn’t looked back since her first newspaper job in classified advertising at the Del Rio News-Herald, in Del Rio, Texas.

 She worked her way to the top and has a proven track record of building readership and driving revenue at newspapers, including the Times-Tribune in Corbin, Ky.; the Richmond Register in Richmond, Ky.; the Stephenville Empire-Tribune in Stephenville, Texas; the Guthrie News Leader in Guthrie, Texas; and now the Osceola News-Gazette.

 “As the publisher of the Osceola News-Gazette, my mission is to serve the community, our readers and our advertisers. I couldn’t be more proud of the dedicated employees running our circulation, advertising and editorial departments, but I’m ultimately responsible for what we do at the News-Gazette and how we do it. The buck stops here,” Rochelle said.

“We will celebrate our successes with you, and we’ll own up to mistakes when we make them. But we will always do our best to deliver the news you need to know and the stories you want to read. The news isn’t always positive, but the truth must be told. We will also strive to delight you with feature stories that highlight the people, places and events that make Osceola County so special.”

 Juder Stidham is the new general manager and will lead operations at the News-Gazette.

 He has owned and operated several businesses throughout his career — from rental cars to expediting services.

 Juder cut his chops in the business world in the 1980s at his family’s car dealership in Corbin, Ky. The couple met while Rochelle was on a sales call at the dealership. (Needless to say, she got the contract).

Juder said his father taught him the value of excellent customer service at an early age.

“The most important thing I learned from my dad was how to take care of customers. He always said that it didn’t matter whether someone spends $2 on a car part or $20,000 on a vehicle; you always take care of your customers. And that’s how I’ve always run my businesses,” he said. “I’m hands-on kind of guy and serve my customers no matter the issue, the time of day or the lengths to which a problem needs solving.”

 Married for 25 years, Juder and Rochelle work hand-in-hand and it’s rare to see one without the other.

 They work in tandem and already have begun to expand the News-Gazette’s digital services to meet the needs of Osceola’s ever-growing business community. It will soon allow advertisers to target specific markets with greater precision than ever before and also make it more affordable to bundle digital and print advertising.

 But the Stidhams said the News-Gazette was more than just a business investment.

 “We’re here to give back and to grow partnerships with local government agencies, nonprofits and, of course, the business community. But helping people is at the heart of what we do; it’s what a newspaper is all about,” Rochelle said.

 The Stidhams are still settling into town, but Kissimmee isn’t completely new to them. They’ve been vacationing here since the mid-1990s when their children were small. Juder (the 4th) is a 25-year-old software engineer for J.P. Morgan and lives in Plano, Texas. Jarrett, 23, is the back-up quarterback behind Tom Brady for the New England Patriots. Rochelle’s oldest son Dustin, 37, is a property manager in San Antonio, Texas, Rochelle’s hometown.

“This is a family-owned newspaper now and we want our readers and our advertisers to know that we’re here to serve them and to be part of the community,” said Rochelle. “We’re thrilled to be official residents of Osceola County and at the helm of this venerable newspaper.”