Several key financial players and newspaper operators have publicly expressed interest in buying, and are doing so privately as well.
“Everybody’s talking to everybody,” says one top executive of a major newspaper company.
Among those that have made recent acquisitions or have publicly said they are looking are the soon-to-be-spun-off Tribune Publishing Company, which recently bought some smaller papers around Baltimore and Hartford and said in a recent financial filing that it expects acquisitions to be “an important component of our business strategy”; News Corp., whose main man Rupert Murdoch was recently heard strongly hinting along these lines; and an under-the-radar owner of smaller newspapers, GateHouse Media, among others.
The main reason for all this is pretty simple: Newspapers, having crashed in value, are now cheap, have more or less stabilized, and are still throwing off lots of cash. More on this below.
Warren Buffett noticed this a couple of years ago and made a much celebrated foray into the market, though opinions differ on how well that deal is working out. More quietly, Halifax Media Group, backed by, among others, a unit of Stephens Inc., an investment bank based in Little Rock, Arkansas, has made a string of deals in recent years, including 16 papers from The New York Times Co. in 2012.