Owner of Jacksonville's newspaper filing for bankruptcy to cut debt, reorganize business
Wake up and good morning. The owner of Jacksonville's hometown newspaper, the Florida Times-Union, is filing for bankruptcy today -- a move we've seen more than once among newspaper companies seeking protection from debt and buying time to reorganize their publishing affairs. The newspaper will continue to publish.
The step by privately owned Morris Publishing was expected. The company says it will filed a "prepackaged" Chapter 11 bankruptcy plan to lower its debt by approximately $288.5 million. In addition to the Times-Union, Morris owns such daily newspapers such as the Augusta Chronicle and Savannah Morning Newsin Georgia, as well as the St. Augustine Record in Florida. Morris is based in Augusta, Ga. Here's a statement from William S. Morris III (in photo), chairman of Morris Publishing Group, issued this morning.
"This filing is the final step in the financial restructuring we announced last fall. We are pleased that so many of our note holders agreed to support this move to get Morris Publishing on more solid financial ground."
Coverage online in the hometown Augusta paper of the bankruptcy was comprised of two sentences.
Last week, the holding company for MediaNews Group Inc. newspapers, including the Denver Post and San Jose Mercury News and 52 other daily newspapers, said it plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Morris's Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing would be at least the eighth to hit the newspaper industry over roughly the last year. Others include Tribune Co., publisher of the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times as well as Florida's Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel, as well as Freedom Communications, which owns the Orange County Register. Journal Register Co. and the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis and, more locally, the Creative Loafing alternative chain had brief stints in bankruptcy and emerged from court protection owned largely by banks that held the company's debt.
-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist