A rural news operation in Oregon is for sale – and it will be a good deal for
the right person. Here’s why.
The Malheur Enterprise, based in Vale, is a family-owned operation that has built a state and national reputation after being rescued from near-failure in 2015.
Today, the Enterprise publishes a weekly newspaper, operates a robust digital subscription service, and produces high-quality specialty publications.
This is the right journalistic enterprise and business for someone looking to escape big-city life and corporate machinations and put skills and ideas to work for a community that appreciates quality local news.
What you should know:
- The Enterprise was founded in 1909 and operates from the county seat. It operates with five F/PT employees, with one FT news opening.
- The news operation scrapped the traditional weekly newspaper model, building a successful business model off strong enterprise and investigative reporting.
- In an area unaccustomed to hard questions, the Enterprise has made potent use of the state public records law, assisted in some instances by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.
- When county officials wanted $875 for public records – a stiff price for a small newsroom – the Enterprise asked for community help. In days, more than 60 people donated over $4,000, demonstrating the journalism practiced by the Enterprise has strong community support.
- The operation has at times partnered with ProPublica, Report for America and the Solutions Journalism Network – all aimed at innovative news coverage.
- The reputation has allowed the Enterprise to operate a robust summer internship program, with four paid interns now each summer. They come from some of the best schools in the country – University of Oregon, USC, Oklahoma, and UNC-Chapel Hill.
There’s more to be done – and opportunity to continue the innovations in
community and rural journalism and serve as a model.
The business has been owned since 2015 by Les Zaitz and Scotta Callister, an Oregon journalism couple with decades of experience in daily and community journalism. They are ready to turn over the Enterprise for its next stage.
But this won’t be an ordinary sale.
First, they’re seeking new owners who will personally manage and develop the Vale operation. There is no intention to sell to a chain or newspaper group.
Second, a qualified buyer will get a great deal of help to move in. Financing to fit the operation’s ability to pay will be part of the deal. The entry cost will be manageable, to preserve capital for a new owner to operate successfully. And there will be consulting, especially on the business side, so those with journalism but not business experience can feel comfortable stepping in.
We want a new buyer to dream and let us help make the dream happen.
Here’s how this will work.
For those interested, we’re asking for a confidential essay on your background, your ambitions, and what you learn independently about the Enterprise that makes you interested. Describe in general terms your financial strength.
This is journalism, so there is a deadline to express your core interest – March 1.
The essays and supporting information will be reviewed and top candidates will be invited to execute a nondisclosure agreement to proceed.
With that agreement in place, you will get a detailed business package – financial statements, the price, financing terms and other information any potential buyer should have to make a wise decision.
Those who want to proceed will be asked to move forward with an offer to initiate talks about putting a sale agreement in place.
One last word. It’s axiomatic that journalism is in trouble in the U.S. The fact, however, is that local journalism, well done and keenly focused by engaged practitioners, is successful. The Malheur Enterprise may be just the place for you to put your own ambitions, ideas and energy to work.
One last word. It’s
axiomatic that journalism is in trouble in the U.S. The fact, however, is that
local journalism, well done and keenly focused by engaged practitioners, is
successful. The Malheur Enterprise may be just the place for you to put your
own ambitions, ideas and energy to work.
Have questions or are interested in purchasing the Enterprise? Reach out to Publisher Les Zaitz at email@example.com.
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