Business

Nonprofit Buys 22 Newspapers in Maine

The nonprofit, which seeks to preserve local ownership of newspapers, will buy 22 Maine newspapers, including the Portland Press-Herald and Lewiston’s Sun Journal.

The nonprofit National Trust for Local News, founded in 2021, will source newspapers from Masthead Maine, a private company that owns most of the state’s independent media, including five of the six daily newspapers. i plan to buy it. Masthead Main owner Reed Brouwer suggested earlier this year: consider selling.

National Trust for Local News chief executive Elizabeth Hansen-Shapiro said Tuesday that the deal includes five daily and 17 weekly newspapers.

Hansen Shapiro said Maine residents told the group there was an opportunity for nonprofit ownership, following statements by longtime Portland Press-Herald columnist Bill Nemitz. . asked the reader In April, he plans to donate to support nonprofits that maintain local journalism across the state.

“We strongly believe in the power of independent, bipartisan local journalism to strengthen communities and make meaningful connections,” said Hansen Shapiro. “We understand the vital role Masthead Maine and its highly respected publications play in providing reliable, quality news to the Maine community.”

The deal is expected to close by the end of July, he said. She declined to specify the selling price.

In addition to Portland and Lewiston, the sale also includes The Kennebec Journal of Augusta, The Morning Sentinel of Waterville and The Times Records of Brunswick. His sixth daily newspaper in the state, the Bangor Daily News, continues to be owned by Bangor Publishing.

“This could be the most important moment in the history of Maine journalism,” said Steve Greenlee, editor-in-chief of the Portland Press-Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, in an email. . “Our reporting has always sought to serve the public interest, and our business model will now align with that mission.”

Many local newspapers have closed in the last two decades due to declining print circulations and sluggish advertising revenues. In recent years, private equity firms and hedge funds have often bought up distressed assets to cut even more shrinking newsrooms. Hedge fund Alden Global Capital has become the country’s second largest newspaper operator.

In recent years, many nonprofit news organizations have been established across the United States to address the local news crisis and fill the void of defunct newspapers. These include outlets such as The Baltimore Banner and Honolulu Civil Beat.

Based in Lexington, Massachusetts, the National Trust for Local News was founded with the goal of protecting the local press by helping them find sustainable ways. This organization, in partnership with the Colorado Sun, owns 24 local newspapers in Colorado. Philanthropic funders include the Gates Family Foundation, the Google News Initiative, and the Knight Foundation.

The Executive Committee of the Maine News Guild, a union representing about 200 newspaper workers, said in a statement that Mr. Brouwer would “pursue a non-profit business model rather than sell the company to the bad guys.” I am grateful that I chose to.” Destroyed the national news media. “

“We believe the non-profit model is the one that better maintains the duality of journalism as both a consumer product and a public good,” said the board.

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