Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Murdoch keeps Ottaway, remains a rural publisher

News Corp. has decided not to sell Ottaway Newspapers, the community-paper chain that it acquired as part of its purchase of Dow Jones & Co. last year. Most observers had expected Ottaway to be sold, partly because the newspapers in the chain are smaller and more rural than those News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch operates in the U.S. or his native Australia.

News Corp. had said it would explore a sale of Ottaway. "Since then, valuations for newspaper companies have fallen amid an accelerating decline in advertising revenues due to weakness in the economy and a continued migration of ad dollars online," The Associated Press noted. The company declined to comment on the decision, but several Ottaway papers published stories about it yesterday. "In May, Ottaway announced that it was cutting jobs," Editor & Publisher reports. "At the time, CEO John Wilcox said that the cuts accounted for less than 5% of the company's total workforce."

Ottaway publishes eight dailies and 15 weeklies. The dailies are the 80,000-circulation Times Herald-Record of Middletown, N.Y., and The Record of Stockton, Calif., 59,000, both with substantial rural readerships; The Standard-Times of New Bedford, Mass, 32,000; the Mail Tribune of Medford, Ore., 31,000, one paper that ran a story about the decision; the Pocono Record of Stroudsburg, Pa., 19,500; the Portsmouth (N.H.) Herald, 12,300; The Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings, 5,010; and The Danville (Pa.) News, 2,623. Click here for a list of all Ottaway papers.

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