Newspaper publishers buying up California regions
May 11, 2015
The Tribune Publishing Company, which owns the Los Angeles Times announced last week that it is purchasing U-T San Diego, a move that is expected to consolidate the news business in Southern California. [LA Times]
As newspapers have suffered losses in revenue and cut costs, publishers have purchased clusters of papers with the intent of sharing journalistic and business duties among sister publications located in the same regions. In the California market, Denver-based publisher Digital First Media owns a cluster of Bay Area papers, and The McClatchy company owns four Central Valley newspapers, as well as the San Luis Obispo Tribune.
The Tribune Company’s acquisition of U-T San Diego, formerly the San Diego Union Tribune, gives the publisher access to two Southern California metropolitan areas that total more than 21 million in population. The $85 million deal to buy the U-T San Diego also includes eight community weeklies.
There is also speculation that the Tribune Publishing Company will purchase the Orange County Register, which has had troubled ownership in recent years and may soon appear on the market.
Austin Beutner, the Los Angeles Times publisher and head of Tribune Publishing’s newly formed California News Group, is taking over the publisher role for the U-T, as well. Beutner said the two papers would share stories but did not specify how consolidation would work.
Digital Media, whose newspapers include the San Jose Mercury News, Oakland Tribune, Contra Costa Times and Santa Cruz Sentinel, uses a single Bay Area printing press. It also shares stories among papers and has consolidated copy-editing and design functions into one central desk in the East bay.
McClatchy recently announced that it is making the Fresno Bee a regional printing site. The San Luis Obispo Tribune will be printed in Fresno, starting early next month, according to McClatchy’s announcement.
Likewise, the The Fresno Bee’s publisher, Tom Cullinan, is also the current publisher of the San Luis Obispo Tribune. The Tribune’s previous president and publisher, Bruce Ray, resigned on Feb. 27, shortly after McClatchy announced an initiative dubbed “corporate reorganization.”
McClatchy stock is now trading at $1.27 a share. In 2005, a share sold for $74.80.
Tribune Publishing’s stock gained $1.40, or 8.7 percent on Friday, following the announcement of the U-T San Diego acquisition. A share of Tribune Publishing stock is now trading at $17.45.