Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Local foundation buying only newspaper in wealthy D.C.-area county to save it after investors' $2 million falls short

Fauquier County, Virginia (Wikipedia)
"In a last-ditch effort to save the county’s only newspaper, the owners of The Fauquier Times essentially have agreed to give the weekly to a journalism foundation," Don Del Rosso reports for Fauquier Now, an online news site in the Virginia county, which is in the Washington, D.C., metro area and is "one of the fastest-growing and highest-income counties" in the U.S., Wikipedia says.

The Times, The Prince William Times, some specialty magazines and Piedmont Media websites are being sold for $1,000 to the Piedmont Journalism Foundation, headed by Boisfeuillet “Bo” Jones Jr., former publisher and CEO of The Washington Post.

The nonprofit status will allow the newspapers to accept tax-deductible contributions, said Landon Butler, "who helped manage Piedmont Media and headed its board," Del Rosso reports. The foundation’s other board members are attorney Georgia Herbert of The Plains, a Fauquier town, and Jessica Tuchman Matthews, former head of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

"The foundation will support the company and local journalism, explained Mr. Jones, noting it funded and provided at no cost to Piedmont Media in-depth stories on rural broadband and the opioid crisis," Del Rosso writes. "The foundation also shared the opioid-crisis series with Fauquier Now."

Piedmont Media's 45 stockholders had bought the papers from Peter Arundel and put about $2 million into the company over the last three years, "according to sources," Del Rosso reports. "Warrenton resident Les Cheek, who bought 15 shares at $1,000 apiece, got the news in a phone call last Thursday from Piedmont Media LLC board member Trevor Potter," who summarized a memo that said “the headwinds for print journalism are very strong in a negative direction,” Cheek said. “And, that basically the investors and managers had basically exhausted their capacity to raise any more funds for the paper in its current business model.”

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