Digital First Media to consider sale of company, local newspapers

Company that operates San Jose Mercury News, The Daily News looking at alternatives for its future

Digital First Media, the media company that owns the San Jose Mercury News and The Daily News, announced Friday that it has hired an advisor to "explore strategic alternatives," which could include selling the company or one or more of its regional outlets.

Digital First Media, formed through a December 2013 merger of MediaNews Group and the former Journal Register Company, operates 76 daily newspapers and 160 weekly publications, including the Los Angeles Daily News and the Denver Post. It is the second-largest newspaper company in the United States by circulation and serves 75 million customers, the company said.

"The news information industry in America is undergoing a period of seismic change, defined by the need to consolidate to rapidly compete in a digital world," Chief Executive Officer John Paton said in a press release. "The companies that will succeed are those which have meaningful scale and digital expertise. By anticipating the rapid revolution in our industry and responding to stay ahead of the curve, DFM has clearly emerged as a leading player, based on the high quality of our assets and the extensive work we have done to transform them into multi-platform products that deliver outstanding local news and exceptional opportunities for advertisers."

"As a result, we believe we have many options available to us to maximize the value of our businesses for our stockholders, and the board of directors has therefore decided to assess the full range of those opportunities," he said.

The New York-based company has hired UBS Securities LLC to serve as financial advisor to its board of directors and Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP as its legal advisor.

The company's announcement stresses that "there are no assurances that the process will result in a transaction(s) or on the terms or timing of such a transaction(s)." The board of directors has also not set a definitive schedule for completing the review process, the company said.

"It is the company's intention not to disclose developments with respect to the strategic review process until the Board has determined whether it will proceed with one or several transaction(s), or otherwise concludes its review," the press release states.

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2 people like this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2014 at 10:49 am

This development should come as no surprise to those following the media, and those whose feet are firmly rooted in the shift from paper-based information distribution to digital (Internet/web)-based distribution.

It’s also no surprise that the Mercury News is up on the block again. It wasn’t that long ago that Knight-Ridder collapsed, and the Mercury was offered up for sale. Although eventually sold to MediaNews Group, there was no interest in the paper by wealthy Silicon Valley types—who might have been able to pay almost any price KR was asking. (Sports teams seem to be of more interest to wealthy technology types, it seems.)

Missing from this announcement is why the Mercury, sitting in the center of the Silicon Valley, is up for sale. One would wonder why it has not been able to “go digital” faster, and better, than any other paper in the world.

Got to wonder—maybe you can’t teach old dogs new tricks ..

2 people like this
Posted by I like newsprint
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Sep 15, 2014 at 10:54 am

Sounds to me like this large group is more interested in making money for stockholders than in reporting local news. While making money is important, in the newspaper industry, it ought not be the top priority.

What we see here sounds like more concentration in business, where a few people control the "market", only news is not a product.

The public deserves truthful news, written by competent, professional, objective reporters that take the time to hunt down truth, and follow-up on the stories they report. We need solid, local reporters, and truthful local news, and not just here, but for everywhere in our nation.

1 person likes this
Posted by anciana
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 15, 2014 at 11:05 am

I'm with I Like Newsprint 100%. I DON'T like reading my news off a screen. I like to have my newspaper with my cup of tea in the morning,not in front of a computer! Please don't give up on print editions!

2 people like this
Posted by Unbiased news fan
a resident of Los Altos
on Sep 15, 2014 at 11:25 am

I read the mercury news on my iPad daily. I have been mostly pleased with the process. However, should they be sold again we may lose the great writers and columnists we now have and end up with one of the owners who insist on certain biases coverage. Profit is not everything.

1 person likes this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2014 at 11:28 am

> Sounds to me like this large group is more interested
> in making money for stockholders than in reporting local news.

Wow! Sounds like someone who believes that companies can operate at a loss .. for the benefit of the public that doesn’t want to pay for anything .. like high-priced news.

> The public deserves truthful news, written by competent,
> professional, objective reporters that take the time to
> hunt down truth, and follow-up on the stories they report.

Hard to find much of that in the Mercury News .. which seems to be more of a stealth PR front for local/big government.

In fact, it’s really hard to find very many newspapers that have ever delivered honest, truthful, and dependable reporting. Too many newspapers tend to reflect the political, and even religious, bias of their owners.

> don’t give up on print editions ..

There are thousands of papers on-line, all of which provide easy access to people interested in the news. Paper requires the felling of a lot of trees, and the filling of a lot of dump areas. Not very environmental, given how little each newspaper is actually read.

1 person likes this
Posted by Report news, spare trees
a resident of another community
on Sep 15, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Gotta agree about the trees. Of course, some papers might use recycled newsprint for their publications but who knows for sure.

News in print may die but there will always be news to report. It's just a matter of how it's reported.

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

I used to be a print reader, particularly when I was a train commuter many moons ago.

The majority of a print newspaper can be printed days in advance. The front page news and the back page sport has a deadline to print and even though there can be second editions and hold the presses until... a morning newspaper in print is old news by the time it reaches a home. Particularly here on the West coast, so much has already happened in the day by the time we eat our breakfast that the only real benefit of a printed newspaper is for the magazine pages in the center.

The biggest problem for a print newspaper is getting to bed and then on your doorstep so that you can read it with your morning cup of tea.

I turn on my computer and expect to be able to read the latest facts from all over the world which is why I am no longer a print reader. I do not want to read yesterday's news when there is more up to date information at my fingertips.

I appreciate the job done by good journalists and particularly understand that they need to still have time to proof read and edit their articles. As an example, the day Robin Williams' death was reported, the first I heard of it on my car radio was "unconfirmed reports are stating that RW died but as yet we do not know if this is an internet hoax as his publicist has not released a press statement". Getting the news out has to be accurate, but we do expect to hear it fast.

For this reason, the demise of the print versions is going to continue. The next big question is how to pay for the news and news organizations are either charging for access to their sites or we have advertising to pay for it. This should be the next debate. Should advertisers therefore have any say in the way the newspapers in which they advertise are run?

1 person likes this
Posted by D.C. Mitchell
a resident of Professorville
on Sep 15, 2014 at 4:37 pm

I've lived here in Silicon Valley, as it is now called, for the past 50 years. As one might expect, this is a unique place of mostly highly educated, energetic people, interested in the goings-on in all places among all groups of people.

We have witnessed newspapers come and go over the years and have formed opinions of the types of news coverage about which most people here are most interested, and news coverage not interesting to many. We seem to be interested about advances in medicine, electronics including all things high-tech, and social interaction of a positive nature within the newspaper distribution area; with over two million people in this area that is not a problem to cover.

What most people do not want to see in this local newspaper is coverage, superficial as it is, of news items from areas far removed from this interesting, industrious, fascinating area. and we do not want to have to be subjected to political opinion that the large majority of us entirely disagree with, such as political editorial cartoons from places such as ultra-right wing, isolationist Victorville, CA which is small in area and at least 500 miles from The San Jose Mercury News' circulation area.

1 person likes this
Posted by Share
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Sep 21, 2014 at 10:25 pm

As much as I like newspapers printed on paper, everyone knows their days are numbered. So right now we have newspapers simultaneously on paper and online. Trouble is, people don't much like to have to pay for news content online. For example, I receive the "front page" of the online NY Times for free, but they want me to pay to read individual articles in full. However, I have a way around that. So, then, media companies will have to get their online revenue from ads. What I see is a general dumbing down of online news content with poorly paid writers and a quest for eyeballs using inane subjects, such as "The Ten Best American Cities for Blind People."

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