New York Times and Journal Register? Seriously?

May 16, 2008

journal-register-logo.JPGWe’ve written a lot lately about tiny Journal Register Co , the newspaper publisher that’s exploring its options — another way of saying that its survival is on the line. Among them is getting its lenders to restructure its debt so it won’t have to declare default. Another, which would depend on that, is taking $25 million from an Ohio-based investment firm and selling off a bunch of its failing newspapers.

The New Haven Advocate, which publishes in the same town as Journal Register’s largest paper, the New Haven Register, is reporting information nyt-logo.JPGthat seems about as reliable as reports of multiple gunmen at Dealey Plaza:

One of the options that we never considered, but apparently someone out there is pushing, is selling either some or all of the company to the New York Times Co. Here’s what the New Haven Advocate wrote:The financial free-fall and dwindling readership of the Journal Register Co. and its flagship Register are old news, but that doesn’t mean somebody doesn’t think they can turn the business around. JRC honchos won’t tell The Nose a thing, but a source inside the Reg hints that no less a monolith than The New York Times Co. may be a suitor.

Imagine! “The Neediest Cases” moving to The Hill. “Our Towns” spanning the entire length of the Metro-North commute. A shorter trip to work for New Haven?based NY Times Magazine writer Jack Hitt. Maureen Dowd duking it out with Joe Amarante over who gets to cover televised presidential debates. Yale’s Cross Campus appearing in the Times Crossword. Perhaps a “Journal Register Journal” feature, in keeping with “Taipei Journal” and other thrill spots.

I called the NYT and wrote an e-mail to Journal Register’s investor relations chief Gary Struening. Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis declined to comment, and Struening, per the usual policy, let silence speak for the company.

But consider this: The New York Times has fish of its own to fry at the moment. It is trying to beef up its Internet presence through investments and enhancements to its newspapers’ Web sites while working on persuading investors that it cares about their concerns over its falling stock price even though its first allegiance is to the family that owns it. We’re not sure how taking on a company at risk of default on nearly $700 million in debt whose stock is trading for nearly no money would help the Times.

Got a contrarian take? We want to hear from you.

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The Journal Register Company is headed for a turn-around. As Chairman & Chief Executive Officer James W. Hall said May 8, 2008, “… much of the progress and improvements resulting from the change in our business model and the repositioning of our resources remain obscured by the effects of the economic cycle. Nevertheless, we inexorably continue our transformation in order to position ourselves to enter the next up-cycle as a leaner, fitter and more relevant organization.”

I’m buying JRC stock–I can’t afford to not buy the stock now, because the gains will be substantial if JRC can ride out the current economic conditions and reposition itself as the go-to online resource for all things local.

Posted by Peter Wakeman | Report as abusive