Charlie Plowman, the owner of Outlook Newspapers in La Cañada Flintridge, has acquired the assets of three recently folded newspapers from the Los Angeles Times’ parent company.
Plowman takes immediate ownership of the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and La Cañada Valley Sun just two weeks after The Times’ owner, California Times, announced that it was shutting down the three award-winning papers because of the economic crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus.
With the deal, the 52-year-old La Cañada Flintridge publisher significantly expands his news operation. Plowman has published the La Cañada Outlook since 1998, and he later added the Pasadena Outlook and titles in South Pasadena and San Marino. The plan is to combine the two La Cañada papers into one publication called the La Cañada Outlook Valley Sun, and restart the Glendale and Burbank papers with new editions Saturday.
“We are thrilled to have acquired three iconic newspapers with deep roots and historic legacies in their respective communities,” Plowman said in a statement Thursday announcing the deal. “I heard the outpouring from local residents, as to how much they love these publications, and want to support them.”
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Weekly editions of the Burbank Leader and Glendale News-Press will continue to be distributed to readers of The Times in those areas, as they have been in the past.
The transactions come at a troubled time for newspapers as COVID-19 has ravaged the industry. California Times halted publication of the Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader after their April 18 editions. The Valley Sun was last printed April 23. Plowman, who grew up in La Cañada Flintridge, said in the statement that he plans to increase coverage of his hometown and the two San Fernando Valley communities.
“We can do that with the support of the community, in terms of both advertisers and subscribers,” Plowman said. “We feel that local journalism is critical to the life of a healthy city.”
The 14 community news staff members who lost their jobs as part of the closures by California Times will not move to the Outlook Newspapers group. Plowman said he would be reviewing staffing levels and coverage plans.
“What readers will see in the months to come is our commitment to quality journalism as we cover local events, write feature stories, perform investigative reporting and highlight the community’s youth through their achievements in academics, athletics and the arts,” Plowman said.
In late January, Plowman purchased the assets of the 97-year-old San Marino Tribune and South Pasadena Review from Andrew and Carie Salter.
Plowman’s latest acquisition continues an industry trend toward local ownership. In 2018, Los Angeles biomedical billionaire Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong purchased The Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune from Chicago-based Tribune Publishing, returning The Times to local control. New editors were brought in and began working alongside veteran managers to rebuild The Times, adding more than 130 journalists. Then, the novel coronavirus hit.
California Times, based in El Segundo, has been cutting costs in response to a devastating drop in advertising due to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic shutdown. The three former Times Community News titles had been losing money.
The Times purchased the Burbank and Glendale papers in 1993 to serve readers with intensely local coverage about city councils, school boards and high school sports. The Burbank Leader was founded in 1985 as a successor to the Burbank Daily Review, which was founded in 1908. The Glendale News-Press dates back to 1905.
The La Cañada Valley Sun popped up in 1946. The Times added it to its Times Community News portfolio in 2005. The community papers were inserted into The Times and also distributed free at businesses and in newspaper racks. California Times had produced about 5,000 copies of each paper each week.
“We are happy that these long-standing newspapers will continue, and that readers in Glendale, Burbank and La Cañada will continue to receive local coverage of their communities,” said California Times President Chris Argentieri.