OC Weekly Death Watch: the Paper is For Sale

OCWeekly

Move over OC Register.  Aaron Kushner’s local paper is not the only local media outlet in distress.  The OC Weekly is up for sale according to this post on the paper’s Navel Gazing site.

Here’s the press release about the outfit hired to sell the paper:

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray Engaged to Explore Options for Voice Media Group
Santa Fe, NM – January 27, 2015 – Voice Media Group has engaged Dirks, Van Essen & Murray and its subsidiary CAL DVM to explore new strategies for its publishing assets, including the sale or acquisition of alternative publications and other digital businesses.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray will begin by immediately considering options at the OC Weekly, which could include the sale of the publication or a local partnership opportunity.

“We’re confident this will represent an extremely attractive opportunity for the right buyer or strategic partner,” said VMG chief executive officer Scott Tobias. “We’ve been proud to own the Weekly for the past eight years, and we know it will continue to punch above its weight in the future.”

Since its founding in 1995, the scrappy Weekly has won dozens of journalism awards and established itself as the leading alternative voice in Orange County and Long Beach, serving more than 225,000 young, active readers with the region’s hardest-hitting investigative reporting and cultural commentary. Its irreverent and intelligent coverage includes the syndicated “Ask a Mexican” column by editor Gustavo Arellano, as well as the popular news blog “Navel Gazing” and spirited music, food and arts reporting.

This strategic planning is part of VMG’s long-range vision to fine-tune its portfolio. This process is likely to result in the diversification of more of its holdings, which include a fast-growing digital agency business and a national sales arm that serves 56 partner sites and publications with weekly print distribution of 3 million and 95 million page views per month.

“We continue to evaluate all of our properties while at the same time looking at new opportunities,” said Tobias. “We will be making moves that fit our business plan and that set our business up for the most success today and in the future.”

In addition to its affiliated digital properties, VMG publishes the Village Voice in New York, LA Weekly, Denver Westword, Miami New Times, the Houston Press, Phoenix New Times, City Pages in Minneapolis, the Dallas Observer, the Riverfront Times in St. Louis and New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

Tobias went on to say that all communications regarding potential changes to the VMG portfolio will be handled by Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, who can be reached at 505-820-2700.

 

Well, if the paper has been punching above its weight, why would Voice Media part with it?  Stories this week ridiculing the Register for offering low cost deals to build up a subscriber base seem lost on those who give away a product for free.

We’ve already lost OC Metro this year.  The Long Beach Register is gone.  The OC Register is having serious problems.  And the Voice of OC has become the paper most turn to for investigative journalism these days.

Editor Gustavo Arellano wrote:

“On my end, anyone interested in buying this rag gets a motivated band of misfits, almost all of us OC natives loving to tell the best and worst of a land with 3 million souls. We’ve been comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable for nearly 20 years, and we plan to do so no matter who may be our eventual papi or mami.”

I’d be happy if he could remember that Jeb Bush was the governor of Florida, not Texas.

Hey, I’m willing to put together a consortium to buy the Weekly.  Partners can shoot me an email at dchm@theliberaloc.com.  But I suspect the deal breaker will require the next buyer to assume operational debt.  It would be fun to review the books just to see where revenue is coming from and what the expenses are for operations.

What the press release doesn’t say is what happens if no buyer emerges.

 

  3 comments for “OC Weekly Death Watch: the Paper is For Sale

  1. Geoff
    January 27, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    Uh, that’s Aaron Kushner…. but not matter how you spell his name, it will go down in annals of print journalism as the guy who tried to swim against the digital tide and lost the battle. Bleak times to be a print journalist…

    • January 27, 2015 at 5:27 pm

      ack, damn typo. Good catch Geoff. All fixed

  2. January 31, 2015 at 4:39 pm

    Against the tide, Geoff. Aaron came in, threw good money after bad then, when that didn’t work, tried to revitalize a dying market by creating new papers in already saturated markets. That’s not swimming against the tide, that’s stupidity at its best. Just because he dresses nicely doesn’t mean he has a lick of sense. He couldn’t even figure out how to run a paywalled online newspapter profitably.

    As for the Weekly, I hope someone buys it. I enjoy reading it when I can get my hands on a copy. Gustavo is one of those guys you love to hate. If the Weekly goes, its the last thing besides my NRA Freedom First magazine, in print. Oh, wait, I get that electronically now, too.

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