Camera/Times-Call deal gone awry?


Those involved in the Daily Camera/Colorado Daily/Denver Post parent company’s planned takeover of the Longmont Times-Call and its sister papers are not commenting on whether the acquisition went through as planned.

Rumors are circulating that the deal, announced on Jan. 21, didn’t close at the end of January as scheduled, but Boulder Weekly’s calls to the principal players have gone unreturned this week. MediaNews Group Executive Chairman Dean Singleton has not returned repeated phone calls, and Dean Lehman, who is still listed as Times-Call president and editor on the newspaper’s website, did not respond by press time. Other Times-Call employees contacted by BW referred all questions to him.

Daily Camera Publisher Al Manzi did not respond to inquiries on Tuesday or Wednesday. However, during an interview a few days after the announcement, Manzi told Boulder Weekly that the further concentration of the corporate ownership of the county’s daily papers would not necessarily result in fewer newsgatherers and less diversity in the news that Longmont residents are currently receiving.

The MediaNews Group behemoth is known for acquiring papers in a single geographic area and consolidating not just printing and advertising operations, but shrinking editorial staffs and sharing content among the papers.

Asked whether the same stories appearing in the Post, Camera and Daily will now be reprinted in the Times-Call, Manzi acknowledged that there would be some content-sharing, but he rejected the suggestion that the deal would reduce news diversity.

“Oh my god,” he said. “That statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Prairie Mountain Publishing is committed to high-quality journalism, high-quality independent journalism, and that will continue, absolutely, 100 percent in Longmont.”

Asked whether he anticipates any reduction in the size of the Times-Call’s editorial staff, Manzi said it was too soon to predict.

“We have barely had any conversations at all with the leadership there,” he told Boulder Weekly last month. “We have absolutely no idea. Anything we do will be in collaboration with the local management. … The transaction hasn’t even closed yet, so to say we’re going to do this, this and this, it would be way, way premature. We don’t even know the people there, so we have a long, long way to go before we can answer those types of questions.”

Manzi also maintained that the editorial staffs of the Daily Camera and Colorado Daily have remained separate, even though they share content and are housed in the same facility.
In addition, Manzi said there was no connection between the sale of the Camera’s downtown building and the purchase of Lehman Communications, which operates the Times-Call, the Loveland Reporter-Herald, the Cañon City Record and Colorado Hometown Weekly.

“We had been working on this move for, gosh, two and a half years, while we went through the process of trying to sell the building,” Manzi said. “So it was just absolutely a dead coincidence that on the day we were moving, we announced the acquisition.”

Lehman, when reached a few days after the deal was announced, told Boulder Weekly that he expects there to be some content-sharing, but local control over what content is run.

“There will be some new opportunities in that area, but I think their hope is that local editors will decide which stories to publish, if they feel it’s of benefit to their readers,” he said. “I think they hope to retain as much local flavor as possible. But in this day and age, I’m sure they will consider implementing efficiencies if it makes sense.”

Asked whether he would describe Lehman Communications as financially healthy, Lehman replied, “I think so. I think everybody would like to be stronger in the U.S. right now, and we’re in that category.”

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