Freedom To Close Pulitzer-Winning ‘East Valley Tribune’

By: E&P Staff

Debt-burdened Freedom Communications is shutting the doors of the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz., after no buyers placed acceptable bids to purchase the paper. Freedom is closing both the print and online editions at the end of the year.

Freedom’s Interim CEO Burl Osborne told the East Valley Tribune’s Ed Taylor that the company received some offers but “none at a level we would remotely consider. This is a terrible day for the company, a terrible day for the Tribune.”

The Tribune employs 140 people. Freedom said it was providing severance packages and trying to find places for some employees in other parts of the company.

In January, the Tribune radically altered its frequency and cut its Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday print editions, eventually cutting Saturday in May. The remaining copies were free to readers in the core area — 80% are delivered to homes while 20% are available on newsstands. There was a major trim of staff as a result of the move.

In the spring the paper was a recipient of the 2009 Pulitzer for local reporting. The Pulitzer committee cited reporters Ryan Gabrielson and Paul Giblin for “their adroit use of limited resources to reveal in print and online, how a popular sheriff’s focus on immigration enforcement endangered investigation of violent crime and other aspects of public safety.”

Freedom Communications, also the publisher of The Orange County Register, filed for bankruptcy protection at the end of August after staggering under some $770 million in debt.

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