Monday, June 15, 2009

Maine newspapers (finally) sold

Maine's largest newspaper chain has finally been sold.

After many false starts, the Seattle Times Company has sold the Blethen Maine newspapers -- including the Portland Press Herald -- to an investment group led by Richard Connor of Pennsylvania. The company purchased the chain in 1998 for at least $213 million. Today's sale price was not immediately disclosed; conventional wisdom among the chattering classes has been that it would be between $20 and $30 million.

Connor, whose ownership group is now called Maine Today Media, told the Press Herald that another 100 employees may be cut.

If you haven't been following Maine's newspaper crisis, here's an article I wrote in January.

The Associated Press article quoted a San Francisco based media analyst (guess they needed one on Pacific Time at this hour) who described Portland as "a fairly isolated market where there are limited other sources for local news and limited other vehicles for advertising." (Apparently they don't get the Forecaster, The Bollard, the Portland Daily Sun, The Phoenix, and the West End News in San Francisco.) What we're really limited in is not a source of local news but of statewide and regional (i.e.: southern and midcoast maine) news; all we've really got is Maine Public Broadcasting. Perhaps we're on the road to again having a newspaper of record.

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