Investors acquired the newspapers in several major American cities in the second half of 2011, including The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Omaha World-Herald, The San Francisco Examiner and the 16 newspapers that made up The New York Times Company’s Regional Media Group.
Seventy-one daily newspapers were sold in the United States last year, for a total “just under $800 million,” said Owen Van Essen, president of Dirks, Van Essen & Murray, a company that specializes in newspaper mergers and acquisitions. Investors included billionaires like Warren E. Buffett and Philip F. Anschutz, a newly created media company called Wrapports, and media investors like Halifax Media Holdings and the Black Press Group.
Answering the question of why is a little more difficult. Advertising revenue and circulation, two industry benchmarks, have come under tremendous pressure in the last few years. According to the Newspaper Association of America, from 2006 through 2010, print advertising revenue declined to $22.8 billion from $46.6 billion for daily and Sunday papers. In the same period, paid circulation figures declined at many newspapers as users migrated to the Web.