Latest News 2011 September Oregon Newspaper Shares Details of Their Chapter 11 Filing - in Print

Oregon Newspaper Shares Details of Their Chapter 11 Filing - in Print

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by the publisher of Oregon's Bend Bulletin, has been getting press in it's own newspaper.

The filing was made on August 23 when its largest lender, the Bank of America, allegedly could no longer negotiate on a loan of over $18 million.  Western Communications Inc., the parent company of the Bend Bulletin, blames the advertising declines of 2007 in its inability to repay the sum to the lender.

The current owners are descendents of the original publisher and editor, Robert Chandler, who purchased the paper in 1953.  After running the paper for several years, Chandler died in 1996.  

Karen Anderson, the company's chief financial officer said, "mass quantities of people" must be laid off with the filing.  She further stated that the newspaper had been negotiating with the bank since 2007 in many forbearance agreements - each one forcing costly interest rate swings - due the paper's failure to generate enough of a profit to meet the bank's required ratio for loans.

After being criticized by the company, Bank of America, in a Bulletin article, stressed its attempts to work things out with Western Communications.

The president of Western Communications Inc., Gordon Black, said, "They tried to work with us all right-by doubling our interest rate." 

John Costa, the Bend Bulletin's Editor-in-Chief, wrote in his editorial that the dispute between lender and newspaper was "a sad, seemingly avoidable and unnecessary dispute with a once-trusted partner."

In another editorial Costa took aim at the big lenders that many businesses are struggling with for help.

In this vein of thought Costa wrote, "The financial, banking and real estate worlds were in collapse, which certainly put unholy strains on the B of A, as well as all banks.  In fact, it took billions of dollars in taxpayer support to stabilize the bankers, which The Bulletin supported in the interest of all small business debtors."

Operations at six other West Coast publications, as well as the Bend Bulletin, shouldn't be interrupted during the bankruptcy, per Western Communications attorney Al Kennedy.  

Kennedy said that the company employs roughly 385 people.

According to court documents filed in Portland, Oregon's U.S. Bankruptcy Court, assets and debts are both listed as between $10 million and $50 million.

When Chandler was at the Helm of the Bulletin the paper he received several accolades and honors.  Per his obituary Chandler was a board member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, he helped choose Pulitzer Prize winners and was once the national president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Per Black, Chandler was not affiliated with, or related to, the family that once controlled the Los Angeles Times. 

Some journalists are suggesting that the current editorials on the Bulletin pages are reminiscent of the feistiness Chandler's past editorials.

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Categories: Chapter 11 Bankruptcy