Edwin Boorman, president of the family-owned Kent Messenger Group and one of the best known figures in the regional press, has died after a short illness aged 76.
Boorman had previously served as managing director, chief executive and chairman of the company, which owns a portfolio of weekly newspapers, websites and radio stations across Kent.
He took on the role of president in January 2006, after passing the chairmanship to his daughter Geraldine.
Boorman is a former president of the Newspaper Society, serving from 2001 to 2002.
Kent Online reports that Boorman had been taken ill just before Christmas, and passed away peacefully last night.
KM Group managing director Richard Elliot paid tribute to Boorman, whom he described as "a great figure with a true passion for local journalism".
He added: "Edwin helped build a company that everyone at the KM Group is proud to work for, and we will all miss him greatly. Our thoughts and best wishes are with Geraldine and all the family."
Boorman was the third generation in a family that has owned the business since the late 1800s.
Under his leadership, the KM Group expanded into radio and digital with the launch of kmfm and kentonline.co.uk.
Its newspaper portfolio includes the Kent Messenger, Medway Messenger, Kentish Gazette and the Kentish Express.
Pic: KM Group