The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

February 23, 2013

Sale of News-Herald won’t stop the presses

By CARL E. FEATHER - cfeather@starbeacon.com
Star Beacon

— News Herald General Manager Brian McCloskey said Friday the Willoughby-based daily newspaper is not closing and will continue its print and digital editions even after a new owner takes possession of it and Lorain’s Morning Journal on April 17.

A headline in the Friday Star Beacon’s story about the transaction was misleading. McCloskey said that while its owner, The Journal Register Co., filed bankruptcy last year, the newspaper will not cease publication. Rather, 21st CMH Acquisition Co., purchased the two newspapers, which have 217 employees, and plans to continue publication without interruption.

McCloskey said to his knowledge, there will be a print edition of the News Herald seven days a week after the sale is closed April 17.

“Absolutely. There will be a print edition. We are not closing” McCloskey said.

He said that legalities require that employees of the two newspapers be laid off, which generated a Worker Adjustment Retraining Notification that was posted on the Ohio Job and Family Services website. Employees received letters from The Journal Register Co., not 21st CMH Acquisition, outlining the company’s plans.

Many questions remained unanswered, however, for those employees who are laid off and then rehired by the new company. McCloskey said it’s “too early to tell” if there will be a reduction in the workforce at the newspapers. Seniority, benefits, wage scales and pension issues remain to be disclosed, as well.

Digital First Media is the parent company of The Journal Register Co. John Paton, chief executive officer of Digital First Media wrote in his Sept. 12, 2012, blog entry that Journal Register emerged from its first restructuring in 2009 with about $225 million in “debt and with a legacy cost structure.” The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy relief in September 2012. The sole bid for the company came from 21st CMH Acquisition Co., an affiliate of Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund.

The News Herald’s coverage area is primarily Lake County, but the newspaper had a bureau in Ashtabula County from 1999 to 2006.