It appears that the Journal Register Co., which owns The Bristol Press and many other newspapers in Connecticut, is in technical default on loans that it owes, according to this story in Editor & Publisher.
What does that mean? I don't know. But it can't be a good thing.
I don't believe a major newspaper company has ever before found itself in this position. And the truly scary part is that a number of others, including the Tribune Co. that owns The Hartford Courant, are heading in the same direction.
What will a democracy without newspapers look like? I can't even imagine it.
Addendum: I really should mention that what's particularly frustrating is that the Press, the Courant and most of the other papers that are struggling these days are actually making money. It's just that their parent companies are so laden with debt that they are having a hard time paying back money borrowed for stuff that had nothing at all to do with the papers we work for. So the owners squeeze what they can from their costs -- paring employees, wiping out sections of the paper, nickeling and diming at every turn -- and hope they can find a way to stay in the game. It's a sickening downward spiral that has all of us in journalism shaking our heads.
And I'm afraid there's a lot more at stake than whether the local paper lives or dies.
Update: The company's stock closed at 3 cents a share today. That makes the total market value of the company $1.3 million. One consolation, I suppose, is that it can't get much lower.
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