King County Journal Newspapers is for sale, the parent company said Monday, June 19. A broker has been engaged to sell the suburban-Seattle chain by the end of the year, according to President and CEO Peter Horvitz, whose family-owned Horvitz Newspapers owns the 41,000-circulation daily King County Journal, the weekly Mercer Island Reporter and Snoqualmie Valley Record, and seven other newspapers distributed twice a month. The company declined to provide an estimated worth for the properties.
Horvitz has been forced to impose a lot of cost-cutting in recent years. The obvious next question is whether McClatchy, which owns four papers in the state, including the News Tribune in Tacoma, and owns half of three others, including The Seattle Times, might be an interested buyer. (See "A New Co-Owner for The Seattle Times," March 15.)
"We wanted to make this a very public process so that our employees knew about this first, so we are just really beginning the process of approaching companies," Horvitz said in an interview. "There is no frontrunner. I have no idea who we will ultimately sell to. We're very open-minded about talking to anybody who's interested."
"We've been very open about the fact that King County Journal Newspapers have not been profitable, and we've been working very, very hard to turn them around and make them profitable," Horvitz said. "We've improved the financial performance meaningfully, but to reach the maximum potential for these newspapers, we need more time and more investment. Our company does not have the financial resources to make that investment."
Horvitz Newspapers is not selling two other daily newspapers, the Peninsula Daily News in Port Angeles and The Daily Times of Maryville, Tenn., and Horvitz said he will continue to run those. He said the company could acquire other papers after the King County Journal Newspapers sale.
The company owns a printing plant in Kent, which prints Seattle Weekly on a contract basis and would be part of any sale.
Horvitz said he plans to continue to reside in Kirkland and have an office somewhere on the Eastside after a sale is completed.