The La Canada Valley Sun published its final edition Thursday, a victim of the long decline in newspaper advertising, compounded by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Los Angeles Times announced last Thursday the Valley Sun would stop publishing, along with The Glendale News-Press and Burbank Leader. Their final editions were published Saturday. The 14 staff members who worked for those titles were laid off with severance.
“A challenging business environment, including a decline in advertising revenue and the increasing cost of printing, has made it difficult to continue to support these publications,” Chris Argentieri, the president and chief operating officer of California Times, the parent company of the three newspapers, as well as the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles Times executive editor Norman Pearlstine wrote in a letter sent to employees last Thursday evening.
“While the business environment has been challenging for some time, it has become extremely so due to the unexpected effects of COVID-19, which have led to the closure.”
The Times, in a letter to readers, called it “a difficult business decision in a trying time for community newspapers compounded by the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”
“The three titles, while journalistically sound, are operating at significant losses. Advertising has fallen off for several years, and each publication’s print circulation — paid and free combined — is about 5,000 copies at each of the three newspapers.”
The La Canada Valley Sun was launched in April 1946. The Glendale News-Press dates to 1905, and the Burbank Leader was founded in 1985, a successor to the Burbank Daily Review, which was founded in 1908.
The Times purchased the News-Press and Leader in 1993 and the Valley Sun in 2005. The papers became part of The Times Community News division. They were distributed for free at local businesses, in newspaper racks and to The Times home-delivery subscribers in those areas.
The two remaining Times Community News publications, the Daily Pilot and TimesOC, will continue publishing in Orange County.
In her final column, Valley Sun editor Carol Cormaci wrote, “For about the past dozen years or so I’ve been bracing for the brutal news that company officials would be pulling the plug on this gem of a community newspaper. So I can’t say that last Thursday’s conference call advising me and the rest of the staff affiliated with three Times Community News publications, the Burbank Leader, Glendale News-Press and the Valley Sun that our final editions were nigh was a huge surprise. But it was a gut punch that I’m still reeling from days later.
“I’ll be circumspect here and not specify the many ill-advised steps I saw being made under the company that previously owned the Los Angeles Times, moves that set its community papers on a downward spiral they would never recover from.
“The relatively new LAT ownership has challenges ahead, especially during these frightening times when few businesses have money to spend on advertising. And let’s be honest here: There are also some in our nation who would be relieved to see legit news agencies silenced altogether.
“Anyway, eliminating the costs associated with producing our three titles makes sense for the company. But it didn’t have to be this way. We were set up for failure years ago by people who did not understand the value of community journalism.”
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