The publisher of the New York Daily News has hired a financial firm to explore the possibility of selling the nearly century-old tabloid, according to a copy of an internal memo obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
In the memo issued to the newspaper's staff on Thursday morning, publisher and owner Mort Zuckerman said he had been asked last month about his interest in selling the tabloid.
"Although there were no immediate plans to consider a sale, we thought it would be prudent to explore the possibility and talk to potential buyers and/or investors," Zuckerman wrote.
Zuckerman said he recently hired the financial firm Lazard to advise him in the event of a sale. He did not say who approached him about the possibility of a sale.
"I appreciate that this news is difficult for you to digest," he wrote. "But I want to reassure you that my aim throughout this process will be to do the right thing for the business to ensure the Daily News and its brilliant staff have the best opportunity to achieve all our future ambitions."
Like most large newspapers, the Daily News' circulation has been in decline in recent years, according to data collected by the Alliance for Audited Media and figures contained in the newspaper's own media kit. The Audited Media report listed the paper's total print circulation at 431,519 at the end of March 2013, but the newspaper put its own print and digital replica circulation at 338,944 last year.
The paper has also rebranded its online image in recent years, at one point dubbing itself "Daily News America" and switching its digital focus to a broader range of news outside of New York City. On Thursday, the newspaper's website was led by stories about a sex scandal involving a Louisiana attorney and a story about sex abuse suffered by a California woman.
The tabloid has long been among the 10 most highly circulated newspapers in the country, and is one of the most visible publications in the country.
The New York Post, the paper's longtime rival, was quick to claim on Thursday that monthly visitors to the Daily News' website had decreased 30%, and and that the Post's online audience had grown larger in recent weeks.
A veteran Daily News reporter, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity because the staffer was not permitted to discuss the situation, said Zuckerman's memo had sparked a lot of concerned discussion throughout the newsroom on Thursday.
"Nobody's sure what it means at this point," the reporter said.
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for breaking news