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We’re bursting with questions about the sale of the PD

Monday, December 19th, 2011 | Posted by

By CHRIS SMITH / The Press Democrat

Less than a week before Christmas, the Press Democrat building isn’t the cheeriest or most expectant that it’s ever been.

We employees were told this morning that the PD and all the  other 15 papers in the New York Times Regional Media Group will be sold to a Florida company, Halifax Media Holdings LLC.

You can imagine the questions that are bouncing off the walls. The PD’s publisher, Bruce Kyse, said at a late-morning staff meeting that Halifax intends to offer jobs to most Press Democrat employees but that, beyond that, he has little information for us.

So for the moment each of us 300-some employees can only wonder if we will have a job next year, and whether Halifax will keep the PD or or sell it, and what changes are in store for this nearly 155-year-old newspaper.

Being summoned today for a surprise announcement by the publisher triggered a sense of deja vu for me and some other PD veterans. We well remember the day in 1985 that we learned the family-owned paper had been sold to what The New York Times then called its Regional Newspaper Group.

That announcement 26 years ago caused some uncertainty, y0u can be sure. But it was also exciting that we were going to join the family of newspapers owned by The New York Times; there were far less desirable companies that we could have been sold to.

And the newspaper industry in general, and the PD in particular, was doing very well back then. The Times regional group built a state-of-the-art printing plant in Rohnert Park, and I recall the first publisher brought in by the Times saying he anticipated that we would probably outgrow our main building in downtown Santa Rosa.

These are very different times for the newspaper industry, which struggles. We have no idea, not yet, at least, why Halifax is buying an entire group of papers and what it thinks of the Press Democrat. Or what it plans to do with it.

So we wait. I and the people I work with at the PD love this paper and our roles in it and in our community. We hope the new owners will aspire only to make this newspaper better.

But I will admit that right now we’re pretty anxious.

  • ER

    I’m so sorry. I’m a former State Farm Rohnert Park employee, been there, and uncertainty is no fun, actually, let’s just go ahead and say that it is pure hell!

  • http://www.thelittlepicture.net Greg Karraker

    Unfortunate news, and wretched timing. I hope you’ll do well, and even thrive during the transition. Look on the bright side: The New York Times has been bleeding money for years, If Halifax is solvent enough to make this purchase, maybe they will be a source of fresh capital and fresh optimism.

    • Observer of PD

      Take notice that Halifax has not promised nor inferred that it would retain all PD staff.

      Company mergers always cost jobs due to duplication.

      And, nobody sells a company that is making profit. Clearly, the PD is in trouble. Its future is bleak. That is the realistic viewpoint. Got a different one? Its merely wishful thinking.

  • Fran

    Wow! Merry Christmas! Perhaps this will be good for the Press Democrat in the long run. I believe Halifax is in a much better fanancial place. We can only hope. I do so look forward to my paper every morning! Love the local writers and love our deliveryman!

  • http://santarosa.towns.pressdemocrat.com/2011/12/news/were-bursting-with-questions-about-the-sale-of-the-pd/ Paul I.

    Good luck with the new gig, I will always enjoy the PD.

  • JJ Pz

    You should all join in with the North Bay Networking Group. Lots of wonderful people, simular history and great ideas and oppinions. Many out of the State Farm ashes….all strong contacts, great souls and a souce of hope. Good luck! If it does not kill you, it makes you stronger!

  • Observer of PD

    The Press Democrat essentially destroyed its own prospects in this era of electronic media by refusing to cover the important issues of the day and having delusions that “local” news trumped important finance, business, and other news that readers could use to better their lives.

    I know. I know. The Press Democrat even refuses to acknowledge that they doomed themselves.

    While readers sought out information to better their lives, the PD offered biased viewpoints almost daily and did their best to filter the news to what they wanted the readers to view rather than provide what the reader was really interested in. Filtering the news and manipulating what readers had access to in the PD coverage was a very un-smart thing to do.

    Remember their strategy? Cover as much depressing crime in the county as they could find.

    Recall their loyalties? Coyly hyping real estate and interviewing local real estate people non stop.

    The unspoken bond between the PD and local government that worked in favor of government and against actual voter well being.

    If you, as employees of the PD, deny these things, well, you haven’t learned yet. Even now, as your paper’s future is in grave doubt, you refuse to acknowledge simple observations by those of us who wanted but were refused quality news coverage locally.

    Heck, you people hardly ever proof read your published material. The grammatical mistakes and the spelling errors were the laughter of the town. But you didn’t know or care or understand.

  • PD Observer Observer

    Dear PD Observer,

    I find it interesting that you are reading and posting on a site for a company you seem to despise so much. I also can’t tell how you assumed that the previous posters were employees as you refer to them but you know what happens when you ass-u-me. I’m getting the sneaking suspicion that you might be an old bitter ex-employee finding your passive aggressive way to get your kicks. At least that would be a good reason, because if not, then you are just an anonymous nobody finding another passive aggressive way to get your kicks. Either way, seems like you might want to find something a bit more productive to do. In the meantime, us loyal PD readers would like to offer some “wishful thinking” to our local paper who we trust and respect. The company may change but it’s the people that have provided the service I appreciate and enjoy. I wish you all the very best and look forward to many great things in the future!

    • Kathy

      “PD Observer” needs to move on and get counseling to help with the obvious anger that is being harbored.

      I wish the best to all the employees and hope that Halifax recognizes each of you for the strengths and talents each of you bring to the table.

      Sign me, “Happy Retired Employee”

  • Thomas Brooks

    I for one appreciate the local coverage. The problem has been the left wing bias of the editiorial staff. Too often they act like the mouth piece for the local government leftist politicians. It would be nice to hear from the conservative side on issues of the environment, public unions, transportation, education and government spending and debt. Hopefully this will change.

  • http://pressdemocrat Jim

    Maybe they will get an editor who doesnt demonize government employees.

  • First time reader

    I checked out the Press Democrat after seeing the NY article and the announced sale of 15 papers. Had heard the name Press Democrat but was uncertain what town it was in, other than somewhere in No. Calif. I’m more familiar with SoCal and the Central Coast south of SF. Reading a few articles and reader posts makes me believe PD Observer has some valid points. The paper’s article on the sale even sounds a bit unprofessional and juvenile. A good newspaper provides balanced, unbiased reporting on all topics. As a survivor of 4-5 mergers and sales of the years dating back to the 70’s, I wish the employees and the community well. There will be many more changes than you can imagine at this time!

  • Tom Hogan

    Unlike another commenter I like the local news content, and mostly read the PF for that since there are far better papers for everything else, including the NY Times and SF Chronicle. The one who rants on about how the PD didn’t listen to readers is silly; anyone could get the big news from these other sources with a few clicks of the mouse. Maybe the reader is old-school and actually likes consuming trees. As for Halifax, don’t know them but wonder if a Florida company will take a more conservative tack, or maybe they’ll bring a sunnier disposition! Good luck to local staff. Consolidated sale likely means filtering al news across all papers. Good luck to we readers.

  • Sarkyfish

    While, sadly, it may not be good news for some PD employees, it could be good news for its readership; especially those familiar with the PD’s exclusively progressive, editorial department. 1985 and the ascendance of Pete Golis was a dark turning point in the history of the Press Democrat. There was some semblance of balance before 85, but none thereafter when the local hacks thought that they were comfortably part of the New York Times’ politburo. Is a purge forthcoming? Will the “useful fools” meet their end shouting “long live comrade Stalin?”

  • Ron

    Maybe they’ll be ” Fair and balanced “…” You Decide “

  • archybarchy

    “observer” may not be 100 percent right, but he/she brings up valid points.
    when it comes time to cut costs, perhaps with these cuts MANAGEMENT will feel the pinch; the paper has been decimated of journalists while their more highly remunerated ‘supervisors’ remain, with nobody to supervise. Uh, go figger.

  • archybarchy

    WHERE’S THE NEWS OF THE SALE ON THE PAPER’S WEBSITE????? Only can find chris and chris commentary??????

    • B. Bing

      P-D commentator Chris Coursey, whose editorial is on the P-D’s website, is afraid that the new owners won’t be as tolerant of his (and the P-D’s) unbalanced outlook as was the New York Times Eastern Liberal Establishment was. THAT’S why he is waving his arms and mouthing platitudes.

    • lcastrone

      Here’s a link to the front page story that ran Dec. 20. http://www.pressdemocrat.com/article/20111219/BUSINESS/111219511

  • Big Jim

    maybe the ‘journalists’ will find out what everyone else has been feeling for the last 3 years .drinking the far-lefts bathwater won’t pay the bills anymore.idiots

  • An objective observer

    It’s clear as can be that “Big Jim” (yeah, I’ll bet) isn’t a journalist since he knows nothing about punctuation or other grammatical niceties. Guess what, Little Jim? It’s the Far Left’s bathwater, with a possessive. Otherwise you’re saying nothing. Even with that, you’re saying nothing, because what you did say makes no sense. Be careful to whom you apply the label of idiot. Apparently life’s not treating you well and you think that leaving a nasty message online addressed to no one in particular but amorphous “journalists” will make you feel better. Me, I’m not angry at anything, just outraged by stupidity. I’m addressing my post to what is obviously an idiot.

  • http://reddit.com/ Jake F

    In 1985 that huge building in RP was built in anticipation of area population/ industry growth. The population grew but local industry went to s**t. Santa Rosa has become a broken and economically depressed island. Blame the anti growth, not in my back yard folks. Also, see our messed up dead end freeway/Farmers Ln gridlock fiasco. Don’t worry, SR will never become like San Jose. More like Lake County. Nothing wrong with progress folks. I’m outa here.

  • archybarchy

    The Rohnert Park press facility looks big enough to convert into a…..casino. Less of a gamble on income than a newspaper these days. Get rid of that water-wasting grass while you’re at it.

  • M.L. Carle

    Far left bias? That’s not how we center-left see it. I think of the paper as somewhat right of center. I can usually find something that sets me off. Guess it’s where you stand.

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