Archive for the ‘Marion’ Category

How much Gannett got for the Marion newspaper

December 1, 2008

The company donated the Chronicle Tribune in Marion, Ind., to the Gannett Foundation in the spring of 2007, then soon after arranged for it to be sold to Paxton Media Group in Paducah, Ky., for a then-undisclosed sum. Now, the foundation’s newly-filed 2007 tax return shows it sold a newspaper that year for $12.3 million; it doesn’t identify the paper, but it’s surely Marion.

Historically, Gannett has funded the foundation with gifts of newspapers. Proceeds from the sale of these papers are then distributed as grants. Yet, with virtually no market for paper sales these days, I wonder how the foundation’s going to get money in the future?

[Image: today’s front page, Newseum]

Documents reveal value of dumped newspaper

March 28, 2008

Current and former company executives use the Gannett Foundation to entertain themselves — pretending to be philanthropists, and financing their fantasy partly by selling off Gannett’s patrimony: community newspapers. The foundation’s most recent public tax return reveals the price of this folly.

Two years ago, Gannett “donated” Oklahoma’s Muskogee Phoenix to the foundation — on April 3, 2006 — then sold it downmarket about three weeks later for $24.5 million, the return shows, to privately held Community Newspaper Holdings of Birmingham, Ala. At the time, Gannett said the sale was part of its growing clustering strategy: Favoring newspapers that are near other papers, so the company can better merge editorial, business and other functions, to save money. “It was nothing about the people or the paper,” said Dan Ehrman, vice president of planning and development, according to Editor & Publisher. “We’re looking to build tighter clusters.”

Gannett had owned the Phoenix, founded in 1888, since 1977, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show. Daily circulation was around 17,000. That means the sale price averaged $1,441 per subscriber. Long, long ago, when I reported on newspaper sales, the going price was around $1,000 per subscriber.

It’ll be interesting to see how much the foundation got for last year’s sale of the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Ind., when it was sold to Paxton Media Group, a corporate chop shop based in Paducah, Ky. We should know more when the foundation’s 2007 tax return is filed later this year. In any case, the market for newspapers has been especially weak, given plunging revenue across the industry.

Where execs got charitable spending bucks

March 28, 2008

With Corporate’s funding, the Gannett Foundation quietly set aside hundreds of thousands of dollars so top company executives could pretend to be generous — without actually spending their own money. Lately, Gannett has been raising money for its charity arm by selling newspapers. Last year and in 2006, the company sold two, after first donating them to the foundation. CEO Craig Dubow wrote in his annual letter to shareholders that proceeds from last year’s sale of the Chronicle-Tribune in Marion, Ind. — which Gannett had owned for 36 years — were “used to make grants to support our communities and to match employees’ charitable gifts.” The paper wound up in the icy grip of Paxton Media Group, a corporate chop shop in Paducah, Ky.

[Image: yesterday’s Chronicle-Tribune, Newseum]