ST. PETERSBURG — Times Publishing Co., the corporate parent of the St. Petersburg Times, announced Wednesday that it is putting its Washington-based Congressional Quarterly Inc. up for sale.
CQ is an award-winning journalism company that has been a leader in covering Congress and federal politics since it was created 63 years ago by then-Times owner Nelson Poynter. Poynter viewed it as way to help the home audience keep tabs on its Washington representatives, and he saw it more as a public service than a source of profit.
Rapid expansion into the digital age has turned CQ and several electronic spinoffs into a popular source of daily, weekly and real-time news that decision-makers, academics and other media outlets are willing to pay for. The company employees 170 people.
"CQ has enjoyed a sterling reputation for journalistic excellence," Times Publishing chairman Paul Tash said in a news release, who added in a letter to Times staff that it was a "painful decision" brought about by a harsh economy.
Tash declined to pinpoint CQ's revenue or worth on the open market. The CQ sale, he said, will allow Times Publishing to retire debt from a major renovation of its printing operations, provide revenue to its owner, the Poynter Institute for Media Studies in St. Petersburg, and invest in operations and growth of the Times.
CQ may benefit from gaining new ownership with deeper pockets.
"Times Publishing Co. has been a wonderful steward of this business," CQ president Robert Merry said in the release. "But to maintain CQ's double-digit growth, we appreciate that it's time to bring our enterprise under the banner of an owner with national or international reach."