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East Valley Tribune to Keep Publishing in January as Sale Moves to Completion

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The sale of the East Valley Tribune to 13th Street Media, the publisher of the weekly Tucson Explorer newspaper, won't be finalized until after the first of the year.

However, the Valley's Pulitzer-winning, semi-daily paper and its Web site will continue past a December 31 deadline announced last month, says Bob Emmers, spokesman for California-based Freedom Communications, the Trib's parent company.

"They are going to keep publishing this year and beyond until the deal is completed," Emmers tells us today.

That's good news for Trib readers (like us) who wondered if service would be interrupted.

The bankrupt Freedom, which reportedly owes more than $700 million to its creditors, decided to close the Tribune following more than a year of layoffs, furloughs, and scaled-back production. Freedom executives apparently had hoped that news of impending doom for the century-old paper would spark someone to buy it -- and that's just what happened.

Randy Miller, owner of the Explorer and Telluride Daily Planet, and Freedom have already finalized a letter of intent to complete the sale. A bankruptcy judge needs to approve the sale, and that won't happen untill after the first of the year. So, Emmers says, Freedom decided to keep the presses rolling for the next few weeks.

 

Details of the sale are still being hashed out between Freedom and Miller, Emmers adds. He wasn't sure whether the sale would include the Trib's downtown Mesa building near Country Club Drive and Main Street.

When announcing the new buyer last month, Trib publisher Julie Moreno said the Trib's new, $4 million printing press would be part of the sale, but not the building and property. That's somewhat troubling for a few reasons. First, the old brick building on prime land near the city's government buildings symbolized the paper's committment to covering Mesa -- it's a local icon of journalism. Second, the building contains a large printing press -- wouldn't the new buyer want that? Third, the building is as big as a Walmart Supercenter. A smaller workspace will mean fewer employees.

Miller said last month that he hopes to keep a substantial number of employees after the sale.

 

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Side note: As long as we're on the issue of newspapers in trouble, did you see that the 125-year-old Editor & Publisher magazine plans to shut down unless it can find a buyer? It's reportedly the second-oldest trade publication in the country. We lament what this implies about the trade.

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