Digital First Media nixes Thunderdome, plans newspaper sale
Last Updated: 16:54 April 2, 2014
Digital First Media will close its Project Thunderdome, an initiative to provide content and support to the company's network of more than 100 local newsrooms. Thunderdome employed 46 people on its editorial staff.
Since 2011, Digital First Media has managed MediaNews Group and former Journal Register Co. newspapers, which merged last year.
MediaNews Group's subsidiary Prairie Mountain Publishing manages the Daily Camera in Boulder, Longmont Times-Call, Loveland Reporter-Herald, Colorado Daily, the weekly Estes Park Trail-Gazette, and Colorado Hometown Weekly in Louisville, Lafayette, Erie and Superior. It also owns the Fort Morgan Times, Sterling Journal Advocate and Brush-News Tribune. It is unclear if these newspapers would be part of a group sale.
"Going forward, some of what happens at Thunderdome today will continue; some of what Thunderdome does will be redistributed to our staff in the field to continue and some will be stopped," Digital First Media CEO John Paton said in a blog post Wednesday.
Thunderdome employees said on Facebook and Twitter that they were planning to seek new jobs after receiving two-week notices. A Digital First Media spokesman declined to comment.
Digital First Media, which operates Digital First Ventures, MediaNews Group and 21st Century Media, has $1.4 billion in annual revenue and 10,000 employees. The company says it operates more than 800 digital and online products in 18 states, reaching more than 61.5 million customers monthly.
The Thunderdome closure is part of Digital First Media's goal to cut more than $100 million in costs, wrote Ken Doctor in a post on Nieman Journalism Lab. http://www.niemanlab.org/2014/04/the-newsonomics-of-digital-first-medias-thunderdome-implosion-and-coming-sale/
The move underscores the weariness of Digital First Media majority owner Alden Global Capital, which aims to sell its newspapers, Doctor wrote.
"They're not yet on the market, but expect regional auctions of DFM properties with clusters around the Los Angeles area, the Bay Area, New England, Philadelphia and Texas - unless Alden can find a single buyer, which is unlikely," he wrote.
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