Officials from Irvine-based Freedom Communications, whose flagship newspaper is the Orange County Register, told employees of Arizona's East Valley Tribune newspapers that they will cease operations on Dec. 31.
Freedom's official announcement is contained in this company news release. It's also backed into in the second paragraph of this Register blog post, which leads instead with their corporate overlords saying they expect to see a profit by 2012.
Perhaps they are applying the Bob Dylan Law of Economics, which holds that if you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.
Freedom told the newshounds who have been gamely covering Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Queen Creek, Arizona--and winning a Pulitzer along the way--that the economic recession and changes in the newspaper industry are to blame for their pulling the plug on the Trib.
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Because Freedom is operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, many of its assets have been put up for sale, but no acceptable offers have come forward for the Tribune, Freedom's interim CEO Burl Osborne is quoted as saying.
The Tribune employs about 140 people, mostly at its Mesa facility. The paper's website will also shut down at year's end, but Freedom will keep the printing press, acording to Osborne.
The Reg-i-spin has Freedom emerging from bankruptcy as a company valued at $400 million to $500 million with a debt of $325 million. Reducing expenses ala killing the Trib is among the ways it will get there, according to Orange County's paper of record.
Don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet, Grand Avenuers: the same piece says Freedom will reduce payroll and benefits by 5 percent in 2010 "by cutting staff companywide." That, of course, would be on top of all the freezes, reductions and eliminations already weathered by the Register.