Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Lakeland Ledger, 14 other papers may be sold by New York Times to Halifax Media Group
No, the St. Petersburg Times is not being sold.
But the New York Times is in advanced negotiations with Daytona Beach-based Halifax Media Group to sell its regional newspaper group to the company. That would transfer ownership of the Herald-Tribune in Sarasota, The Lakeland Ledger, the Star-Banner in Ocala, the News Chief in Winter Haven and the Gainesville Sun to Halifax, along with 11 other newspapers outside the state. (see the full list here)
Halifax, which bought the Daytona News Journal in 2010, apparently accidentally posted changes to its website reflecting the new acquisitions, which were noticed by media blogger supreme Jim Romenesko. Before long, the Halifax Media Group website was down and the NYT had a story and press release rocketing across cyberspace.
According to the New York Times story on the sale, "The Times' Regional Media Group accounted for 11 percent of the Times's $2.4 billion in revenue in 2010. From 2008 to 2009 advertising revenue at the group fell 30.2 percent to $193 million. Ad revenue fell another 8.2 percent in 2010 to $177 million, according to the company's 2010 annual report."
The company expects to focus on its largest properties and is slowly walking back from its days as a sprawling newspaper company, like many companies. Creative Loafing made a similar move in October, selling off its papers in Tampa and Charlotte, N.C. in a move that allowed a smaller company to pay a bargain price to expand its alternative newspaper business.
If this goes through, it will make Halifax the owner of six Florida newspapers.
The St. Petersburg Times, by the way, is independently owned by the non-profit Poynter Institute in an arrangement developed by then-owner Nelson Poynter expressly to keep the newspaper from being sold to a chain.