December 1, 2008

'We're trying to save these newspapers'

Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this story:
Legislators representing Bristol and New Britain will meet Friday with state economic development officials about what can be done to save the daily newspapers in those cities.
The Bristol Press and The Herald in New Britain – and 11 weekly community papers in Connecticut – will be closed January 12 if a buyer for the papers isn't found by then, the owner, Journal Register Co., has said.
All together, there are about 100 jobs at stake.
"We're trying to save these newspapers," said Rep. Frank Nicastro, a Bristol Democrat.
Lawmakers from Bristol and New Britain have a meeting scheduled on Friday with Commissioner Joan McDonald of the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
Rep. Tim O'Brien, a New Britain Democrat who brought the delegation together to ask for the meeting, said he wants to talk about how the state can help.
"The state has programs that are designed to create and preserve jobs," said O'Brien, who said he wants to bring the importance of the newspapers to McDonald's attention.
The goal, according to O'Brien, is to "keep these historic businesses and the jobs from leaving our communities."
Sen. Tom Colapietro, a Bristol Democrat, said he would be at the meeting Friday to lend a hand.
"I don't like to see anybody lose their jobs," Colapietro said. "I'm hopeful we can do something."
Sen. Donald DeFronzo, a New Britain Democrat, said he wants to find out what, if anything, the DECD is already doing to preserve the newspapers.
"They may have something percolating already," said DeFronzo.
If not, DeFronzo said, he wants to find out what can be done.
Aiding a prospective newspaper buyer, said O'Brien, is the same as helping any other business.
Any state help would go to a new owner or operating organization, according to O'Brien, not to the Journal Register Co., which intends to sell or close the papers.
"The application for any assistance would be for the new prospective buyer," said O'Brien.
DeFronzo said the state may be able to help "if we can find a prospective buyer or successor organization."
If nothing can be done and the papers close, DeFronzo said, he wants to know what the state can offer the 100 people who stand to lose their jobs.
Both O'Brien and DeFronzo said they had been contacted by possible newspaper buyers or their representatives, but didn't provide details.
"I'm somewhat encouraged," said DeFronzo.
Nicastro, who served as Bristol's mayor for a decade, said the local paper includes everything, even notices of Cub Scout meetings and fundraising car washes.
"You lose a newspaper, you lose everything," said Nicastro. "You lose the city, and it's wrong."
Nicastro – who was instrumental in brokering a deal that saved Lake Compounce when the nation's oldest amusement park nearly closed more than a dozen years ago – said he's pleased that the New Britain and Bristol delegations are working together to save the papers.
January 12 isn't far away, Nicastro pointed out.
"Time is of the essence," said Nicastro. "We've gotta fight hard on this."
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Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

10 comments:

Salvation !!!!!!!!!!!! said...

Has anyone thought to contact Rush Limbaugh about purchasing the papers in jeopardy ???


It would be quite a pleasant change to get balanced reporting in the area .

Steve Collins said...

For the record, there are many Republicans who want the paper saved, too, including Gov. Jodi Rell, state Rep. Bill Hamzy (a former state GOP chairman), city Councilors Ken Cockayne and Mike Rimcoski, town Republican leader TJ Barnes. There are plenty of others as well.

Anonymous said...

Is the JR open to receiving money from the State DECD or are they not interested in staying open any longer. The articles keep saying that they will close unless "they find a buyer".

Are they looking to get out or just get out of debt and will a life line from the DECD give them the foot up that they need to find a long term plan to stay open?

Joey Garlic said...

Frank Nicastro loves himself.

Steve Collins said...

The JRC owes far more than the state could possibly help it pay back. It seems to be determined to sell the papers or close them, which I assume is the result of a bank edict.
Its long term plan, to the degree one exists, is simply to do what the bank says and hope to pay back enough of its debt to remain in business.
For us in Bristol, the ONLY choice is to find a new owner or close down.
What the state can do is help a new owner secure whatever benefits any new business owner is entitled to receive. And there are some scenarios where the expertise of state officials could perhaps make it possible for something to happen that would otherwise not happen.

Poboy said...

Steve-

What assets are there to purchase other than the name? Are there still printing facilities in Bristol? Is the Bristol Press building owned by JRC and how many people actually work for JRC in Bristol? What value do they place on this operation?

Steve Collins said...

The building is not for sale. A purchaser would, presumably, get the name, subscriber list, advertising accounts and, to some degree at least, employees.
Heck, just getting the opportunity to fire me ought to be worth something!

Steve Collins said...

Though it's not for sale, some have asked me about the property. Here's the assessment data: http://data.visionappraisal.com/BristolCT/findpid.asp?iTable=pid&pid=1534

Anonymous said...

Call Rush!
Call Rush!
Call Rush!

Howdy Doody said...

The City should get involved: just think of all the recycling money they are going to lose!