Pennsylvania Publisher Takes Over Maine Papers

Yesterday, the Seattle Times Co. completed the sale of its Maine newspaper properties to a consortium called MaineToday Media Inc. led by Rich Connor (left), editor and publisher of the Times Leader in Wilkes-Barre, Penn.

Connor, a Bangor, Maine native, will serve as editor and publisher of the three Maine papers involved in the deal – The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, The Kennebec Journal in Augusta and The Morning Sentinel in Waterville. The MaineToday Web sites and niche print pubs like the free pub The Maine Switch were also part of the package put up for sale by the Seattle Times Co. in March of last year.

Although the deal saved the Maine papers, not everyone’s jobs were saved. The newly purchased properties employ about 500 people, the Kennebec Journal reported, but about 31 non-union employees – including some senior managers — have been let go. Connor told the paper that future cuts might result in the loss of about 100 more jobs.

However, the sale will most likely be a boon for the Maine papers, since Connor has promised to add back some news space. “Exactly how much I don’t know,” he told the Journal.

Meanwhile, Seattle Times Co. said the sale of its Maine holdings did not completely erase all of its financial problems. “While it’s good to have the sale completed, it does not solve the financial challenges we face,” company president Carolyn Kelly wrote in an e-mail to employees yesterday, according to a Seattle Times report.

Connor also reached out to his staff and readers in Maine in the Herald today. “Our combined audience of print and online is the fourth-fastest growing of any newspaper in the country,” he said. “And our experience in Wilkes-Barre — although the two companies will be separate — gives us confidence that we can grow here, as well.”

(photo via the Times Leader)