Mastheads close as campaigning group goes up for sale

Jun 19, 2024 at 04:15 pm by admin

The “headwinds” that beleaguer the US news industry have hit home at EO Media, the Oregon publisher of which America’s Newspapers president Heidi Wright is chief operating officer, among the latest to be under threat.

Last week, the Seattle Times reported that fourth-generation EO Media – named for the East Oregonian – was one of two family-owned publishing companies to announce the sale, or imminent sale, of what amounts to almost half the newspapers in the state.

Based in Salem, the fourth-generation publisher said it was closing five titles, laying off 28 of its 185 employees and putting the company up for sale. A further 19 move to shorter hours next month, when print editions are being reduced in Bend, Medford and Pendleton.

EO was the second news media company in the state to make such an announcement in the week, with Pamplin Media saying it had sold its group of 24 papers including the Portland Tribune.

Buyer of Pamplin Media is Carpenter Media, which bought Canadian chain Black Press in January.

The EO announcement caused special alarm, given its owning Forrester family had been long-term campaigners to save the state’s remaining local newspapers.

Kathryn Brown, who is co-owner and vice president of EO, said the family was feeling “very vulnerable” to another economic downturn. It had been on a growth path with the acquisition of the Bend Bulletin and Redmond Spokesman in 2019, and the launch of a new title in Medford after a daily there closed.

However, Brown said they were still not big enough to get the economies of scale enjoyed by larger companies.”

She said the family would sell the papers as a group and “be choosy” about the buyer. “We’re not going to sell to someone who is going to basically pillage the company,” she said. “We want to sell to someone who has local journalism at the heart of the brand.”

Meanwhile legal notices and advertising had declined, and delivery costs risen 50 per cent since 2001.

“I don’t know that it’s unique to Oregon,” Heidi Wright said. “There are a lot of challenges, a lot of headwinds, for our industry.”

• Elsewhere in the US, news that Lee Enterprises is closing the Winston-Salem production print it bought from Warren Buffett’s BH Media. Production of dailies the Greensboro News & Record and Winston-Salem Journal and other Lee papers in North Carolina “will move to Virginia or Tennessee”.

Buffett bought the titles in 2013, selling them in 2020 when he famously “fell out of love” with newspapers.

Sections: Newsmedia industry


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