Cox buying back Dayton paper, others

Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises is buying back the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and Journal-News from Apollo Global Management, the Dayton paper reported.

That buyback means the papers can go on publishing seven days a week. That had been in doubt after the Federal Communications Commission said that Apollo could purchase Cox’s TV stations only if Cox did not publish a daily paper in Dayton.

“This is the best possible outcome for the newspapers, and it means we will continue to publish a printed newspaper seven days a week, uninterrupted,” said Jana Collier, interim operations leader for the Ohio papers. “Our commitment to important local journalism has never waned, and we will continue to serve our communities going forward.”

The deal is expected to close in a matter of weeks.Cox Enterprises will own the papers. Apollo will own WHIO-TV and the Ohio radio stations and operate them under the name Cox Media Group.

Source: News and Tech, 2020

McClatchy files for bankruptcy; analyst reactions

Industry watchers are chiming in after last week’s announcement that McClatchy, the second-biggest newspaper publisher in the country by circulation, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

If the court okays the plan, McClatchy would give control of the company to New Jersey-based hedge fund Chatham Asset Management.

Ken Doctor, in his Newsonomics column at Nieman Lab, asks “Does Chatham want to be an operator of a newspaper company for any period of time? Or will it try to transmute its suddenly shinier asset through the alchemy of the hour, consolidation?”

“For Chatham, the main question is this: Can it make more money merging with Tribune/Alden — or maybe an again restructured Gannett/GateHouse/Apollo — than it can operating independently?” writes Doctor.

“It is conjectural at this early stage how Chatham will run the company,” writes Rick Edmonds, Poynter’s media business analyst. “This is not its first foray into scooping up a news organization in deep financial trouble. It controls American Media, a group of glossy magazines that includes Men’s Journal and Us Weekly, and the National Enquirer (which it is trying to sell). And since 2016, it has also had a controlling stake in Postmedia, a huge chain of Canadian dailies.”

Newsroom cuts could be in the cards but not for sure, Edmonds writes.

Details of the filing

The Chapter 11 filing provides immediate protection to the company, which will continue to operate as usual as it pursues approval of the restructuring plan with its secured lenders, bondholders and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the company says.

McClatchy and each of its 53 wholly owned subsidiaries filed their voluntary Chapter 11 petitions in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The company has obtained new $50 million debtor-in-possession financing from Encina Business Credit which, coupled with McClatchy’s normal operating cash flows, provides liquidity for Sacramento-based McClatchy and all of its local news outlets to fulfill ongoing commitments to stakeholders, the company says. The company aims to emerge from this process in the next few months, said a news release on the filing.

The plan would allow McClatchy to reorganize its over $700 million in debt. Sixty percent of the debt be eliminated under the plan, a McClatchy story said.  

The new owners, led by Chatham, would run it as a privately held company, so its shares would not be traded on the NYSE American stock exchange. The company is beginning the process of being delisted, the story said.

Signs of financial distress had been piling up at McClatchy. The company saw rounds of buyoffs and layoffs in 2019. In recent months, McClatchy has moved to cut Saturday print at its dailies. The company skipped a $12 million debt-interest payment due Jan. 15. The company also missed a pension payment in January. 

Source: News and Tech, 2020

Rockford paper moving production to Milwaukee

The Rockford Register Star (Illinois) is taking its newspaper printing and production operation from Rockford to a sister facility in Milwaukee, the paper reported. The Register Star news and advertising teams are staying in Rockford.

“This was a difficult decision to make, driven by a broad transformation impacting the newspaper industry,” said Paul Gaier, president and publisher. “With duplicative printing facilities in the area, we are choosing to focus our precious resources on the quality, local journalism our community depends on.”

The Freeport Journal-Standard (Illinois) will also print in Milwaukee. Both will be printed at a facility that prints the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The change is happening in April.

Gannett owns the papers. 

Source: News and Tech, 2020

Hearst invests in Martin Group

Hearst Newspapers has made a strategic investment in The Martin Group, a marketing communications agency with offices in Albany, Buffalo and Rochester, New York. The announcement was made by Hearst Newspapers President Jeff Johnson and Times Union President and Publisher George R. Hearst III. Terms were not disclosed.

Founded in 2001, The Martin Group provides research, strategy, analytics, creative services, public relations, digital marketing, paid media and advertising and social media solutions. Notable clients include Under Armour, Wegmans, New Era Cap, Puma, ASICS and the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.

While the investment formalizes The Martin Group’s partnership with the Times Union, based in New York’s Capital Region, the entities first aligned in 2018, when the agency co-located its Capital Region offices within the Times Union headquarters.

A news release from Hearst said: “The investment in The Martin Group enhances our ability to offer customized marketing solutions and strategies that deliver measurable performance for our clients across several key service verticals, including sports, healthcare, food and beverage, financial services, education and nonprofits.”

Source: News and Tech, 2020