EO Media Group officially became the owner of The Observer in La Grande and the Baker City Herald after a bankruptcy court approved their bid for the two eastern Oregon tri-weeklies formerly owned by Western Communications.
Citing court documents, Andrew Cutler reported in EO Media’s flagship East Oregonian that the two papers sold for $775,000. The sale does not include The Observer’s real estate in La Grande.
Besides the East Oregonian EO Media already published several papers in eastern Oregon including the Hermiston Herald, Wallowa County Chieftain and Blue Mountain Eagle. The sale adds the 5,000-circulation Observer and 2,300-circulation Baker City Herald.
“We’re very pleased to have La Grande and Baker City as part of the EO Media Group. We’re excited about the many possibilities this affords us in Eastern Oregon,” said EO Media COO Heidi Wright. “The purchase of these papers gives our company a greater ability to serve the region in a more effective way. This will grow EO Media Group’s presence in Eastern Oregon from four newspapers to six.”
“The joining together of these outstanding news and advertising operations, with four of them located along the I-84 corridor, will mean greater resources and opportunities for both local and regional news reporting. And that’s a good thing for readers in all markets,” EO Media Group Regional Publisher Chris Rush said.
Western Communications filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January, but later decided to liquidate its assets. The company first filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2011, emerging from the restructuring the next year.
The Observer and Baker City Herald Publisher Karrine Brogoitti told the East Oregonian the sale was unimaginable a year ago.
“When things were their toughest or looked incredibly bleak, the thing that kept me, and everyone else, going was that commitment to what we do,” she said. “The pride and passion that these staffs have for their papers, their communities, their readers and their advertisers is something that I continue to be amazed at. It’s that unyielding passion that got us through some incredibly stressful days.”
Brogoitti will remains publisher of the two papers, and EO Media announced it is retaining all current employees at both operations.
EO Media and the Western Communications papers have had a contractual relationship since earlier this year, when the 53-year-old press that had printed the papers in-house broke down, and printing was outsourced to the East Oregonian press.
EO Media was assisted in preparing the successful bid by Randy Cope and Cribb, Greene & Cope, the merger and acquisition firm with offices in Arkansas, Montana, and California.
“Cribb, Greene & Cope was instrumental in helping our company evaluate the bid packet and put an offer together,” EO Media COO Wright said. “Their analytics and knowledge of the industry were vital in determining an appropriate bid price.”