Dow Jones courts potential buyers for local newspapers

Dow Jones' sale to Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is expected to be completed in mid-December. But it appears the Southern Oregon Media Group &

which includes the Ashland Daily Tidings, the Mail Tribune and The Nickel &

will not remain in the News Corp. fold for long.

Dow Jones, parent company of the newspapers, announced plans this week to explore options for selling the Ottaway Newspapers group.

"The options under consideration include the possible sale of some or all of those papers and associated media properties," Dow Jones said in a release.

Last summer, News Corp. agreed to buy Dow Jones, publisher of The Wall Street Journal, for $60 a share, or more than $5 billion. In August, Murdoch, News Corp.'s chairman and chief executive, said he planned to sell the community newspapers to concentrate on Dow Jones' primary news and financial-information assets.

Dirks, Van Essen and Murray, a newspaper merger-and-acquisition firm based in Santa Fe, N.M., has been hired to broker possible deals. So far this year, the firm has brokered 14 deals involving newspapers or publishing groups.

A spokesperson for the New Mexico broker referred interview requests to Dow Jones.

Howard Hoffman, Dow Jones' corporate communications director, declined to comment on possible transactions, but said the company is well aware of Ottaway's financial performance. The Jackson County operations have just over 200 full- and part-time employees.

Grady Singletary, publisher of the Southern Oregon Media Group that encompasses the three publications, said the pending sale would not have any immediate impact on operations.

"The Mail Tribune and Ashland Daily Tidings newspapers have served our region for more than a combined 225 years," Singletary said. "Our mission of providing quality news coverage of area communities will not be diminished by a change in ownership.

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