Portales, Clovis, Tucumcari papers sold

Robin Fornoff

Freedom Communications has agreed to sell the Clovis News Journal, Portales News-Tribune, Quay County Sun and their affiliated publications to Clovis Media Inc., Publisher Ray Sullivan told newspaper employees Tuesday afternoon.

All 60 full-time and two part-time associates will retain their jobs in ownership transition, expected to take place before the end of February, Sullivan said, and their base pay would remain the same.

Freedom Communications’ Chief Executive Officer Mitch Stern said, “This transaction furthers our goal of providing value for our shareholders while at the same time adding to the company’s financial strength. It also serves to optimize the geographical alignment of our properties, giving us greater abilities to create efficiencies.”

He added: “The leadership of Clovis Media is keenly aware of the important role that newspapers play in their communities and shares our view that a newspaper must be strong in its commitment to providing the community with accurate and timely information and serving as an active steward of the values of the community.”

Gary Stevenson, a principal in Clovis Media Inc., said, “We are extremely excited to be in New Mexico and associated with such wonderful papers. We look forward to continue serving our communities with quality and integrity.”

Sullivan said, “The goal is once we close (the deal)… to make this as seamless as possible. They (the new owners) want to keep in place what we have: Good people doing good journalism.”

Spokespersons for Freedom Communica-tions and Clovis Media Inc. declined to discuss the final sale price.

Freedom Communi-cations, which successfully emerged from bankruptcy reorganization approved in March 2010, sold The Tribune, a 6,800 circulation newspaper in Seymour, Ind., on Jan. 12 to Home News Enterprises LLC in Columbus, Ind.

In a press release regarding the Clovis acquisition, Gary Stevenson said, “We are extremely excited to be in New Mexico and associated with such wonderful papers. We look forward to continue serving our communities with quality and integrity.”

Sullivan told employees he will remain as publisher and that it is business as usual for the newspaper and for the community. “The paper stays local.”

Olaf Frandsen, regional vice president of Freedom Communica-tions, told employees gathered for the announcement that the Stevensons and Ellis “are not buying so they can turn around and flip it to make a large profit.”

“Their intention is to own the Clovis properties for a very long time,” he said.

Each paper will remain separate entities, Sullivan said, and the editorial pages will remain conservative.

“This feels good for us,’ he added. “They (the new owners) believe in local management and local people running their properties.

“I think it’s going to be a good marriage.”