Thursday, January 08, 2009

Buyer found for Conn. papers in danger of closing

A buyer has been found for five small newspapers in central Connecticut that the financially troubled Journal Register Co. planned to close next week. Michael Schroeder, a Long Island media consultant and former publisher of a free commuter daily in Boston, has signed a letter of intent to buy the Bristol Press and the New Britain Herald, 9,000-circulation papers that have a combined Sunday edition, and three weeklies: the Wethersfield Post, the Newington Town Crier and the Rocky Hill Post.

"The move to save the papers became something of a community cause as Mayors Timothy Stewart, of New Britain, and Art Ward, of Bristol, along with state Reps. Tim O’Brien, Betty Boukus and Frank Nicastro and others worked to keep them open and functioning as a service to their constituents," the Press reported. In a news conference at the state Capitiol, Schroeder indicated that the papers, not far from the capital of Hatford, need to strengthen their community connections: “I’m here to give enough time so the community can save the papers.” Press reporter Jackie Majerus paraphrased him as saying "The papers are going to need subscribers, advertisers and community support to make it work." (Read more)

"Just who is Schroeder?" asks Lynn Doan of The Hartford Courant. "He's getting into the newspaper business as the industry faces fundamental change, but those who know him say he might be just the person to resurrect the Press, Herald and three weeklies that come with the deal." Schoreder was a copy editor and later chief of staff to the publisher of Newsday on Long Island. (Read more) For Press reporter Steve Collins' blog on efforts to save the paper, click here.

UPDATE, Jan. 13: Schroeder's plan for changes at the papers "could be one of the most remarkable experiments in media anywhere in America," Courant columnist Rick Green writes.

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