Daytona Beach News-Journal Sold; 48 Lose Their Jobs

Despite protests from owners and former employees, a judge last Tuesday approved the sale of the Daytona Beach News-Journal for $20 million to Halifax Media Acquisition LLC.

The new owners immediately laid off 48 employees, or about 10 percent of the paper’s workforce, and informed the other 422 employees that their jobs were safe.

The previous owners had asked a judge to delay the sale until market conditions improved, arguing that $20 million was not a fair price for the paper, valued in 2006 at $272 million.

But U.S. District Judge John Antoon II said that the sale to was “fair and reasonable and appropriate.” He added that while he understood the argument to wait, he was in “no position” to do so.

The new owners include Michael Redding, who serve as president and publisher, and Stephens Capital Partners of Little Rock, a private equity firm. Redding was CEO of HarborPoint Media of Daytona Beach but said Thursday that he was stepping down, “as I believe enough in the future of The News-Journal.”

In an open letter published in the News-Journal last Thursday, he wrote: “My family and I live in Daytona Beach and over the past eight years I have had the opportunity to evaluate the N-J and have formulated ideas that I believe will make the newspaper more relevant to more people…The News-Journal will immediately begin to increase the amount of local news we provide our customers every day. Above all else, we will be a “local” newspaper. You can also expect the news report to be balanced, and you can expect the award-winning newsroom to continue to fulfill its watchdog role of government.”

Redding also announced the hiring of two new staff: Pat Rice as editor and Mike Baskin as advertising director.