The mating sounds of dinosaurs

Former Cape Cod Times siblings sold again

The Lawrence, MA Eagle-Tribune and its group of North Shore dailies and weeklies  were sold yesterday to an Alabama media giant for an undisclosed amount.  The Eagle-Tribune wasn't so reticent in 2002 when it disclosed its $70 million purchase of the Salem News, the Gloucester Daily Times, and the Daily News of Newburyport from the Ottaway Newspaper division of Dow Jones & Co., owners of our own local daily newspaper.

As the Boston Globe reported today:

"Ending more than a century of family ownership, Eagle-Tribune Publishing Co., whose newspapers serve 55 communities in northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire, will sell the chain to a company backed by an Alabama pension fund."

The sale would mark the passing of another family-owned Massachusetts newspaper company as the industry faces intense challenges from sluggish advertising revenue and declining circulation.

The Alabama company, Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., (Ediror's note; not to be confused with our own Community Newspaper Co. which operates several Cape Cod weeklies and which is owned by The Boston Herald) went on a buying spree shortly after its 1997 launch, though this is its first foray into New England." 

 The Eagle-Tribune sale ends over a century of ownership in the same local family and marks simply another chapter in the implosion of the newspaper industry.  In the last 15 years, several family-controlled Massachusetts newspapers have changed hands, including the Enterprise in Brockton, the  Patriot Ledger in Quincy, MPG Communications in Plymouth, and the Boston Globe, which was purchased by The New York Times Co.

While our own daily is also a part of one of America's largest media giants, the Dow Jones Co., its prospects to remain as independent as it is today probably rely on its continued very high profitability of well over 30%, far better than its parent.  From a financial standpoint it would make more sense for Ottaway Newspapers to sell Dow Jones than vice versa.

But you should pay little attention to the media babble surrounding these newspaper conglomerations - it's just the mating sounds of dinosaurs.  

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