Blethen Maine Newspapers sale completed

The media company that includes the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram was sold today, changing ownership for only the second time since it was formed in the 1920s.

The sale caps a 15-month effort by the debt-saddled Seattle Times Co. to sell its Blethen Maine Newspapers holdings, which it purchased in 1998.

The new owner, an investment group doing business as MaineToday Media Inc.,  said they plan no significant changes in the newspapers right away .

"There are no immediate changes with the exception that I am guessing somewhere in the next week we will be adding back some news space. Exactly how much I don’t know,” said Richard L. Connor, chief executive officer of MaineToday Media Inc.

Connor will serve as editor and publisher of all three Maine newspapers included in the sale. The media properties being purchased include the Press Herald and Sunday Telegram, as well as the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and the Morning Sentinel in Waterville. The MaineToday Web sites and niche print publications, such as The Maine Switch, also are part of the package. Together they employ roughly 500 people.

However, last week, 31 people who are not represented by unions, including many senior managers, were notified they would not be retained by Maine Today Media.  Connor said  future cuts might cost 100 more employees their jobs.

“Local, independent newspaper ownership best serves communities and we are pleased Rich Connor was able to put together a group to buy Blethen Maine Newspapers,” said Frank Blethen, Chairman of Blethen Maine Newspapers and Publisher of The Seattle Times.