It seems the sign of the times these days is that big red “For Sale By Owner” yard marker. Cox Enterprises announced today the Austin American-Statesman is up for sale, along with 28 smaller papers across Texas, Colorado and North Carolina.
Statesman Publisher Mike Laosa told several hundred employees of the impending shake-up yesterday afternoon – employees who are most likely blasting out resumes to PR firms right now.
Cox has only just begun the sales process which could occur as a package deal, or in any number of possible arrangements, Laosa said.
The decision was made in hopes of enabling Cox to pay down some debt. However, industry analyst John Morton says the market for newspapers is poor. “This is a terrible time to be trying to sell a newspaper. The sales value of newspapers has probably dropped in half in the last five years. There are a lot of newspapers that are up for sale and there are no takers or no one willing to pay what the sellers want.”
The Statesman, like so many newspapers today, has consistently lost revenue from decreasing circulation, loss of classified ads and a downturn in traditional display ads by local businesses. The paper’s circulation in March, when the Audit Bureau of Circulation did its most recent survey, was 169,775 on weekdays and 206,505 on Sundays.
Cox Enterprises Inc., a family-owned company based in Atlanta, will hold onto its home paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, as well as the Dayton Daily News in Ohio and the Palm Beach Post in Florida, and some smaller papers in Ohio and Florida.
This news comes just after the Daytona Beach News-Journal was put up for sale, and the NJ Star-Ledger and Trenton Times have been threatened to be sold. Meanwhile, Dow Jones couldn’t find any buyers for their Ottaway chain of papers, though the Tribune managed to unload Newsday.