Mark your calendars, R-J staffers, and remember: What’s past is prologue

In the financial world they say that past performance is no indicator of future results, but in the newspaper business these days what’s past is prologue.

A couple of weeks ago New Media Investments purchased all of Stephens Media’s newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal. New Media, which rose from the ashes of the bankruptcy of GateHouse Media, previously purchased all of Halifax Media from Stephens Capital Partners, different company but same owners largely.

This week News & Tech and blogger Jim Romensko are reporting that New Media is laying off workers at the formerly Halifax papers.

One of the papers, the Star-News in Wilmington, N.C., reported:

“The StarNews laid off an unknown number of employees Tuesday as part of workforce reductions that took place across the group of former Halifax Media newspapers. Details have not been made public.

“The StarNews is one of 36 newspapers under the Halifax Media banner. Halifax recently was purchased by GateHouse Media’s parent, New Media Investment Group, for $280 million.”

They must have laid off the copyeditor who would have changed “unknown” to “unstated.”

Romenesko posted copies of a number of emails he received reporting layoffs at several newspapers owned by New Media. The layoffs hit across the board in the newsrooms — photogs, copyeditors, cop reporters, sports reporters, bureaus, assistant city editors, assistant managing editors, features editors, layout artists, as well as staff in IT, advertising and marketing. One paper reportedly laid off “the editorial writer.”

Stephens sold the Halifax papers in November, the layoffs come in March, so mark your calendars, R-J staffers, for four months hence. What’s past is prologue.

Front of R-J office building on Bonanza.


Owners of Las Vegas newspaper are buying more papers

Interim publisher James W. Hopson announces to Worcester Telegram & Gazette employees in the newsroom that Halifax Media Group has purchased the paper. (T&G staff photo)

Members of the Stephens family, who own Stephens Media which owns the Las Vegas Review-Journal which has seen drastic personnel cuts in recent years, are buying more newspapers through another company, Halifax Media Group of Florida.

The group this week purchased the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette.

According to the 148-year-old Worcester newspaper account:

“Halifax is backed by Stephens Capital Partners, whose CEO is Arkansas billionaire Warren Stephens; JAARSSS Media; and Redding Investments, which is controlled by Mr. (Michael) Redding and which bought the Daytona Beach News-Journal in 2010 for $20 million.

“Halifax’s principal owner, the Stephens family, also owns Stephens Media, which publishes 11 daily newspapers, including the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and 64 weeklies.”

The paper estimates the deal was for between $7 million and $15 million. The New York Times purchased it in 2000 for $296 million. This past year, both the T&G and the Boston Globe, once valued at more than $1 billion, were sold to the owner of the Boston Red Sox for $70 million.

In 2011 Halifax bought a group of 16 New York Times regional papers. In 2012 it bought 19 newspapers from Freedom Communications. It owns 35 papers, mostly in the Southeast.

The employees of the Worcester paper are anxiously awaiting the close of the sale on May 30, when they will find out who still has a job.

May 30 is also the latest of many deadlines for determining the fate of the Las Vegas Sun, which under a joint operating agreement is inserted in the R-J, according to court filings since the previous May 12 deadline.

The R-J has been considerably beefier of late with more run-of-press ads and inserts. Who knows what rates are being charged. Apparently that dual date folio on the Saturday paper — showing the dates of both Saturday and Sunday — is some sort of ploy to put Sunday inserts into the paper a day earlier and increase the apparent circulation.