**Struggling Santa Barbara News-Press Ceases Publishing After Bankruptcy Declaration**
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Santa Barbara News-Press, one of California’s oldest newspapers, has officially ceased publishing after owner Wendy McCaw declared the 150-year-old publication bankrupt.
Bankruptcy Filing and Final Edition
The newspaper transitioned to an online-only publication in April, but its last digital edition was posted on Friday when McCaw filed for bankruptcy. Managing editor Dave Mason conveyed the news to the staff, explaining that they ran out of funds to pay them. Final paychecks will be issued once the bankruptcy is approved in court.
Website Still Online with No Mention of Closure
As of Monday, the News-Press’ website was still accessible, and the most recent stories were published on Friday. Surprisingly, there was no mention of the publication’s decision to cease publishing or its bankruptcy declaration.
Bankruptcy Details and Meeting of Creditors
The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing by Ampersand Publishing, the parent company of the Santa Barbara News-Press, revealed that it has assets of less than $50,000 and estimated liabilities of between $1 million and $10 million. A meeting of creditors, with a range of 200 to 999, is scheduled for September 7.
Controversy Surrounding the News-Press
Founded in 1855, the Santa Barbara News-Press experienced its heyday with a daily circulation of 45,000 and a seven-day-a-week publication schedule. Notably, Thomas M. Storke, an editorial writer for the paper, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1962. However, the publication faced significant controversy over the years.
McCaw’s Ownership and Editors’ Resignation
McCaw, a local billionaire philanthropist, purchased the newspaper from The New York Times Co. in 2000. However, six years later, Santa Barbara News-Press Editor Jerry Roberts and four other top editors, along with a columnist, resigned due to concerns about McCaw’s interference in editorial decisions. They felt that her actions compromised the paper’s credibility and ethics.
Community Reaction and Surrounding Media Outlets
The closure of the News-Press was not entirely unexpected, as the publication had been declining for some time. However, the loss of the only paper in the community was deemed “unspeakably sad” by Roberts. Fortunately, Santa Barbara still has The Independent, a weekly newspaper, and the digital site Noozhawk. The closest major daily newspaper is now located in Ventura County, with San Luis Obispo and Los Angeles also offering daily papers.
Struggling News Media and Local News Crisis
The closure of the News-Press is just one example of the ongoing struggles within the news media industry. According to Tim Franklin, an expert in local news, the United States is losing an average of two newspapers per week, and it’s projected that about a third of all newspapers will be lost by 2025. Competing with tech giants like Google, Facebook, and Amazon, media companies have yet to find a profitable business model for local news.
Similar Industry Challenges and Recent Layoffs
The Los Angeles Times has also faced challenges, announcing recent layoffs and selling the San Diego Union-Tribune to MediaNews Group. The Union-Tribune, now owned by Alden Global Capital, has been criticized for its budget cuts and job reductions. The Mail Tribune, one of Oregon’s oldest newspapers, also shut down earlier this year due to declines in advertising spending and difficulties in hiring staff.
The closure of the Santa Barbara News-Press sheds light on the ongoing crisis in the local news industry. As media companies struggle to compete with tech giants and find sustainable business models, the future of journalism remains uncertain. The loss of a long-standing publication like the News-Press is a somber reminder of the challenges facing local news outlets across the country.