Chapter 11 is no surprise

We’ve known for months that Morris Publishing Group LLC put forth a prepackaged debt swap deal to resolve lingering financial issues. These issues emerged as the newspaper marketplace started to change and worsened when the national economy went in the tank. The deal has a history. Perhaps you remember all of the forebearance reports?

A small number of bondholders could not be reached or didn’t want to be reached regarding the plan, forcing the company to move towards the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing that was announced today. The final extended deadline passed yesterday.

For those of you worried about how this affects The Augusta Chronicle -- the flagship of the 13 daily newspapers owned by Morris Publishing , there is minimal impact. We continue to hire people. We are launching a new Web site (more on this near the end of the month). Current operations are ahead of January goals. Our business relationships are solid, and we are moving forward.

We’ve anticipated this day was coming and have been preparing. Our plans to beef up local news coverage are part of a new vision and effort to serve you for many years to come.

Bankruptcy is a word you never want to hear. In this case, it simply is a financial restructuring through the bankruptcy courts. In this economy, our parent company isn’t alone.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that these prepackaged deals are up threefold (see fourth paragraph in this hyperlink). The media industry has been hit pretty hard. The good news is that we have great support for how we’ll get through this chapter and going forward with our new plans.

In some ways, this news is good news. It gets everything on the table and everything resolved.

So, we appreciate the concern. All your support is needed. But don’t worry. We’ll still be delivering to your doorstep tomorrow and into your digital world for many years to come.

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Jim Christian
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Jim Christian 01/14/10 - 11:46 am
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So the Chronicle is taking a

So the Chronicle is taking a $178 million bailout? Oh sweet irony...

NAOpinion
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NAOpinion 01/17/10 - 09:39 pm
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First they cut back on

First they cut back on employee 401k and benefits. Next they created a 5% to 10% deduction of payroll for its employees across the board. Then they sold off a number of smaller newspaper properties. Then they sold off portions of their billboard property. Then they aquired a boardband media company. Now bankruptcy protection.

Maybe soon they will get the right idea and go public (i.e. LLC to Corporation) and get bought out by a company that actually knows how to treat it's employees.Or even better yet, file Chapter 7 and just be done with the entire thing.

We can only dream.

Alan English
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Alan English 01/18/10 - 09:10 am
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Morris Publishing held on

Morris Publishing held on longer than many others facing the same debt challenges. At least six media companies have walked this path to a financial restructuring. If the 92% bondholder support for the debt swap became 99%, this would be a straightforward restructure without fanfare.  

Large and small companies have made similar adjustments to employee pay and benefits to meet investor and cash flow expectations.

Your wishes would be a nightmare for many good, passionate journalists and employees. What media company hasn’t made tough decisions leaving employees to wonder if they are valued? These are tough days, but we are getting very creative in 2010. We expect to come out of this strong.

wcorowitz
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wcorowitz 01/19/10 - 09:58 am
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How about more support for

How about more support for local artists and less AP stories that have nothing to do with Augusta.  It's a win-win.

Alan English
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Alan English 01/19/10 - 12:15 pm
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Newsroom resources are

Newsroom resources are expected to stabilize this year, allowing us to build new strategies to add local coverage. There are many areas where doing more would help the the newspaper and the community.

We are starting with watchdog journalism, business news and education coverage. Entertainment and arts coverage will get our creative energy and a boost too, but explanatory and investigative news efforts will lead.

Kojack
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Kojack 01/20/10 - 01:02 pm
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What's gonna happen when the

What's gonna happen when the realities of Climate Change hit Augusta and the Chronicle has to ration electricity (read: shut down this website) and start hand cranking copies of the paper out by hand for all to read?  Then what?  Where oh where will we get our news?

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