SCRANTON, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania media conglomerate sold its four daily newspapers, including The Times-Tribune of Scranton, to publishing powerhouse MediaNews Group on Thursday, ending nearly 130 years of local ownership.
Times-Shamrock Communications CEO Jim Lewandowski made the announcement to staff, The Times-Tribune reported.
The other papers in the sale are The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre, the Republican Herald of Pottsville, and the (Hazleton) Standard-Speaker, as well as Times-Shamrock’s weeklies, commercial printing business and other divisions.
Times-Shamrock retained control of its radio and billboard operations as well as the landmark Scranton Times building downtown, the Scranton paper reported.
MediaNews Group’s parent company is Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund that has been buying up newspapers across the country and faced criticism for slashing budgets and cutting jobs.
A majority of Times-Shamrock’s shareholders approved the sale, but some members of the family that controls the company and published the Scranton Times since 1895 expressed their opposition.
“We remained confident and hopeful that our current board of directors and management team would have been able to lead us through the industry’s headwinds more effectively and humanely than a hedge fund like Alden,” said the statement by former publisher George Lynett and his children, all of whom are shareholders.
Selling“to a company with such a devastating reputation in the industry runs against everything we believe in,” the dissident family members wrote.
A memo from Lewandowski to the staff called the sale “an exceptionally difficult decision” that was driven by “numerous factors including the changes in the newspaper industry.”
A message was sent to MediaNews Group seeking comment.
It wasn’t clear how many layoffs were planned. But a document given to Times-Shamrock employees said the new owner is “offering employment to virtually of the employees, except for a few crossover team members who serve both print and radio.”