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Trib Total Media puts 9 Western Pa. newspapers up for sale

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Steven Adams | Tribune-Review
The Clark Building on Pittsburgh's North Side.

Trib Total Media announced on Friday it intends to sell nine publications in Western Pennsylvania, including four daily newspapers.

“Our plan to sell these newspapers is part of a larger strategic growth plan that the board of directors has developed over the course of the past year,” said Jennifer Bertetto, president and CEO of Trib Total Media.

She said the death last year of Trib owner Dick Scaife prompted a strategic review of the company, which produces 77 publications.

“We currently have interested buyers for all of the publications that we are selling. We will, however, entertain all serious offers,” said Bertetto.

The daily newspapers offered for sale are The Valley Independent in Monessen, the Leader Times in Kittanning, The Daily News in McKeesport and the Daily Courier in Connellsville.

Also up for sale is the Laurel Group, which publishes weekly newspapers in Westmoreland County. Those publications are The Mount Pleasant Journal, The Independent-Observer, The Ligonier Echo, The Times-Sun and The Jeannette Spirit.

“Additional investments are planned to enhance our digital offerings that will allow us to deliver the news where, when and how our readers would like to receive it,” said Bertetto, who became the company’s top officer in January.

The strategy also includes buyout offers for employees at other Trib Total Media properties. About 430 workers will be eligible for the buyouts. The company anticipates about 75 employees will accept the offer, Bertetto said.

“The buyout offer allows our employees who have spent a considerable amount of their career helping to build Trib Total Media to have some financial flexibility as they look to the next stage of their life,” Bertetto said.

The offer includes 1.5 weeks of pay and health care for every year of service. The offer is capped at 52 weeks.

It’s the second buyout offer since 2009 for Trib Total Media.

By contrast, its chief competitor, the Post-Gazette, recently offered buyouts to 120 newsroom employees because of weak revenue. Block Communications announced last year it was laying off hundreds of production workers at the Post-Gazette and the Toledo Blade, a sister publication.

The Trib has hired Dunn, Rush & Co. of Boston, an investment bank with expertise in media properties, to help solicit bids and manage negotiations for the sale.

The sales and buyout offers come amid a high-profile legal challenge to Scaife’s will posed by his daughter, Jennie of Palm Beach, Fla., and his son, David, of Shadyside.

Bertetto said Trib Total Media is not a party to those lawsuits.

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