The owner of the L.A. Weekly, the O.C. Weekly and five other alternative weeklies across the country announced Wednesday that the newspapers are for sale. Stern Publishing owner Leonard Stern said he decided to sell “after consulting with my children and discussing their future plans.”
In a memo to Stern Publishing employees, company president David Schneiderman called the announcement “very surprising” and said he had “mixed feelings about the news.” Schneiderman went on to say that the company will immediately begin fielding inquiries from potential buyers and intends to announce a sale by the end of the year.
Stern launched his media empire in 1985 when he bought the Village Voice for $55 million from Rupert Murdoch. Nine years later he purchased the L.A. Weekly from founder Jay Levin and the paper’s other owners. Since then he has bought three other papers — the Seattle Weekly, the Cleveland Free Times and the City Pages in Minneapolis and St. Paul — as well as launching the O.C. Weekly in Orange County and the Long Island Voice. All told, the newspapers now employ more than 500 people, with revenue upward of $80 million and a combined circulation of nearly 900,000.
During his ownership, Stern, who is chairman and CEO of Hartz Mountain Industries — maker of flea collars and bird- seed — has taken a hands-off approach to his publishing interests, allowing the papers nearly complete autonomy. “It has been and continues to be a great experience working for Stern,” said L.A. Weekly publisher Michael Sigman. “At the same time I am extremely excited about our future possibilities.”
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