The Courier newspapers are in the Soup. The Village Soup, that is.
Village NetMedia Inc., which operates the Village Soup Web sites and publishes the Waldo County Citizen and Knox County Times weeklies, announced today that it has purchased rival Courier Publications, a chain of six weekly papers and a Rockland printing plant. In Village's news release, the purchase price was not disclosed. The sale is expected to close by June 30.
(Disclosure: My weekly political column runs in three of Courier's publications.)
The sale will cost both jobs and competition. In an announcement posted on the Village Soup Web site,
Richard Anderson, CEO of Village, said his company's Citizen and Courier's Waldo Independent will be "folded into" Courier's Republican Journal in Belfast. The Village's Times will be absorbed by Courier's Camden Herald and the thrice-weekly Courier Gazette in Rockland.
About 26 jobs at Courier will be eliminated due to duplication, mostly in Knox and Waldo counties. In addition to the Journal, Independent, Herald and Gazette, Village is also acquiring Courier's Bar Harbor Times and the Capital Weekly in Augusta.
Village Soup-style Web sites are planned for all the papers, incorporating the "virtual town square" concept the company pioneered. Its sites include both traditional news and postings from a wide range of community sources.
Courier is currently owned by Crescent Publishing of South Carolina, which purchased the company in 2001. Village was started by Anderson of Camden and his son Derek in 1997.
"I think there is a certain comfort that our readers will get from knowing that the owner is a member of their community," Anderson said. He said with newspaper revenues declining, the shift to Village's business model is the best way to preserve local journalism. "Our approach helps transition traditional community newspaper companies into community host companies, and that's the future for the industry."Al Diamon can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.