Western Communications revealed two Oregon-centric bidders for part of its string of Pacific Northwest newspapers Tuesday, but not a potential buyer for its largest and most prominent paper, the Bend Bulletin.
EO Media group made an offer to buy the Baker City Herald and the La Grande Observer for $775,000. The Salem-based company owns 11 newspapers, including the East Oregonian and the Daily Astorian, and describes itself as "a private, family-owned company with deep roots in the Pacific Northwest."
Country Media, Inc., also based in Salem, offered $350,000 for two coastal outlets, the Curry Coastal Pilot in Brookings, and the Del Norte Triplicate in Crescent City, Calif. It owns 11 newspapers across the west, including five small outlets in Oregon.
Western Communications told the court and creditors to expect closings by the end of June, after a waiting period to allow for higher offers. The proposed buyers have asked for a June 27 hearing to get the sales approved.
"Both of them are really good fits," Western Communications Chairwoman Betsy McCool told the Bulletin of proposed buyers. "I wish them all luck. I'm hoping they'll serve their community and employees well. I have no doubt that they will."
If successful, buyers will replace 70 years of influence by the Chandler family company, founded by longtime editor and publisher the late Robert Chandler. McCool is his daughter. She signed off on a plan to dissolve Western Communications after selling all of its assets in court documents filed last month, representing the latest seismic shift for Oregon print media. The company’s real estate holdings are also for sale, including a sprawling headquarters in Bend.
As reported in the Bulletin, McCool said she is "not permitted" to talk about bids submitted for The Bulletin, The Redmond Spokesman or The Union Democrat in Sonora until a proposed sale comes before the court.
The prospective buyers did not immediately return requests for comment.
Editor’s Note: OPB reporter Emily Cureton worked for a newspaper owned by Western Communications between 2011 and 2015.
This story has been updated to reflect the year the Chandler family bought the Bulletin, 1953.