Bristol Mayor Art Ward got the call Tuesday night he's been waiting for ever since the Journal Register Co. announced in November that it would shutter The Bristol Press and The Herald of New Britain unless a buyer could be found.
New owner Michael Schroeder made the courtesy call to Ward less than two weeks before the deadline the Journal Register Co. imposed.
"He said his offer was accepted, the closing is sometime in the next two weeks," Ward said. "But for all intents and purposes, he's the new owner. I'm ecstatic."
Newspapers across the country are mired in an abysmal downturn, with declines in circulation and ad revenue exacerbated by the recession. There was no guarantee that the newspapers would sell, and local leaders fretted about what the loss of the papers would mean to the communities.
The state and local governments did what they could to promote the sale. The state Department of Economic and Community Development sent letters to 16 media companies telling them the newspapers were for sale and reminding them of the services the department renders. Five companies responded to the letters; four others came forward from other sources.
In a story posted on the newspapers' websites Tuesday night, Publisher Edward Gunderson said Schroeder, owner of Central Connecticut Communications, had entered into a letter of intent to buy the two daily papers. The sale includes three weeklies: the Wethersfield Post, the Newington Town Crier and the Rocky Hill Post, the story said.
Central Connecticut Communications is a corporation formed to facilitate the sale, the Journal Register Co. said. The sale price was not disclosed. Schroeder was with Newsday for 15 years and was publisher of the short-lived BostonNOW, a free commuter daily, according to the Journal Register Co. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.
The Journal Register Co., based in Yardley, Pa., owns 22 daily newspapers, including the New Haven Register, and 300 non-daily publications. The company has already begun shutting down several weekly newspapers in southern Connecticut.
Ward and New Britain Mayor Timothy Stewart met with Schroeder about a week and a half ago. "He seems to have a very energizing personality. I was enthused," Ward said. "He wants to live in Bristol and be part of the community, and he said he was in town Sunday to look at residences. That says a lot about him."
Preserving the New Britain and Bristol businesses is important because newspapers help keep residents informed about their communities, Ward said. "We're excited that we still have another media outlet so the public can know what's going on, especially in cities the size of Bristol and New Britain," Ward said.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times