Publisher of some local newspapers files for bankruptcy

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The publisher behind community newspapers, including more than a dozen from the Quad Cities and surrounding areas, has filed a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition.

GateHouse Media filed the petition September 27, 2013 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware.  Bloomberg Business reported the company listed assets of $433.7 million and debt of $1.3 billion in the petition.

GateHouse Media publishes 78 daily newspapers, 91 advertising-only shopper publications, 235 weekly newspapers, 350 locally-focused websites and a half-dozen business directories.

The company’s website lists more than a dozen publications in and around the Quad Cities area among those it publishes, including the Galesburg Register-Mail, the Aledo Times Record, the Abingdon Argus Sentinel, the Oquawka Current, the Peoria Journal-Star, the Freeport Journal-Standard, the Kewanee Star Courier and Review in Monmouth.

In a staff-written article appearing in its publications, GateHouse Media confirms the filing as part of a strategic decision “to restructure $1.2 billion of debt scheduled to come due in August 2014.”

Part of that plan includes merging with Local Media Group.

“Once GateHouse has emerged from bankruptcy, we will be under common ownership with Local Media Group, a company with a strong community media presence and performance that operates eight daily community newspapers and 13 weeklies,” said GateHouse Media director and CEO Michael Reed.  “Joining with Local Media Group will be an important step in growing our business and will contribute to our future success.”

The announcement said GateHouse intends to continue day-to-day operations and that customers, vendors and employees should not notice any change as a result of the bankruptcy.