New York Times ‘close to selling’ regional newspapers to Halifax Media Group

The New York Times
The New York Times Co. “is close to selling” the 16 newspapers in its Regional Media Group, located in Alabama, California, Florida, Louisiana, North Carolina and South Carolina, to Halifax Media Group. Halifax purchased the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2010.

The Times’ Amy Chozick reports:

The company’s regional newspapers, which include the Sarasota Herald-Tribune and The Gainesville Sun, accounted for 11 percent of the Times’s $2.4 billion in revenue in 2010. Even as optimism for the digital plan at its The New York Times newspaper has grown, the regional publications have dragged, the steady decline driven by a lack of classified ads and a migration of readers to the Web.

Chozick cites “people familiar with the discussions”; she says a spokesman wouldn’t comment. Minutes after her story was published, the Times said in a news release that it is in “advanced discussions” with Halifax.

There seems to be some confusion over how many papers are included. Chozick’s story first said the newspaper group includes 14 newspapers; now it says there are 16. The page of the Times site about the Regional Media Group says there are 15. And the news release says 16 papers are part of the potential sale. (Based on the Times site, I originally said there were 15.)

The value of the regional papers has been declining, the Times reported in July. Pay cuts instituted in 2009 stayed in place in 2010.

A tipster sent us a screen image of Halifax’s listing of companies, which includes papers in the New York Times Regional Media Group. The companies are listed on the cached version of the site in Google. Halifax’s website is down now.

A tipster sent us a screenshot of the Halifax Media Group website with the New York Times regional papers listed among their properties.

The Times’ Regional Media Group page lists 15 papers in six states:

Twelve-Month Average Circulation for New York Times Regional Media Group Papers
Newspaper name Daily circulation Sunday circulation
Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Sarasota, FL 76,693 96,237
The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, CA 60,429 64,538
The Ledger, Lakeland, FL 48,802 63,833
Star-News, Wilmington, NC 43,233 45,678
Herald-Journal, Spartanburg, SC 36,289 43,383
Star-Banner, Ocala, FL 33,880 41,156
The Gainesville Sun, Gainesville, FL 33,278 40,569
The Tuscaloosa News, Tuscaloosa, AL 30,070 31,377
The Gadsden Times, Gadsden, AL 20,663 17,748
The Courier, Houma, LA 14,715 16,252
Times-News, Hendersonville, NC 13,603 13,911
Daily Comet, Thibodaux, LA 8,673 *
The Dispatch, Lexington, NC 8,084 *
News Chief, Winter Haven, FL 4,839 6,550
Petaluma Argus-Courier, Petaluma, CA (6,033 weekly) *

Not listed: North Bay Business Journal in Santa Rosa, Calif.

Julie Moos contributed to this report.

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