Hangin' By a Thread; East Valley Tribune Publisher Files For Bankruptcy

If video killed the radio star, the Internet has absolutely demolished the newspaper "star," and the publisher of the East Valley Tribune is the latest to feel the wrath of the Web.

Freedom Communications, the publisher of the Tribune, and countless other newspapers including the Orange County Register, filed bankruptcy in a California court today.

Freedom is currently about $1 billion in debt, $770 million of which is owed to a collection of banks headed by J.P. Morgan.

"Reaching this agreement with our lenders provides us with an orderly process to realign our balance sheet with the realities of today's media environment," says Freedom CEO Burl Osborne, who took the reigns of the declining company about two months ago.

The publisher has been struggling to repay its debt for more than a year, despite ordering a 5 percent pay cut for all 8,200 of its employees, and mandatory furloughs.

Freedom officials say that despite filing for bankruptcy, the publisher still has enough cash to keep the lights on, but the question is for how long.

In December of 2008, the Tribune laid off nearly half its staff, and scaled back to publishing four days a week.

In April, when the bleeding still hadn't stopped, the once-daily scaled back yet again, dropping its Saturday edition and publishing three times a week.

We're pulling for them, but let's be honest: a few more months, and the East Valley Tribune is going to be the East Valley Newsletter Online.