Skye Media to Take Stake in Mid-Atlantic Papers

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A new company, Sky Media Inc., will take an equity position in several free dailies and weeklies in the Virginia and Maryland area.

James McDonald, who until recently was publisher at Philadelphia Metro, the country’s first free major-market daily, will become president and group publisher for Skye Media when he leaves his current executive position at Metro in New York, in February.

Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a Santa Fe, N.M., newspaper merger-and-acquisition group, set up the formation of the new capital structure of Sky Media Inc.

The newspapers holding company will be renamed Skye Media Inc., and all papers will keep their current names. Investors include the current owners of the papers, McDonald, and others.

Free dailies that will be included in the merger are the North Virginia Journal, Montgomery (Md.) Journal, and Prince George’s (Md.) Journal, while the free weeklies will include the Sun Gazette, covering three zones in Northern Virginia, and covering suburban Richmond, the Central Virginia Gazette and Mechanicville (Va.) Local.

“The Journal covers some of the most affluent suburbs of the country. We plan on improving the product to grow readership, which I believe, will be followed by revenue growth,” McDonald said, adding, “When you add the synergy of the free weeklies, I see a number of unique opportunities.”

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