Unwilling to reveal the identity of his investors or how much he plans to pay, Michael Schroeder spoke at a Capitol press conference Wednesday about his plans to purchase the Bristol Press, New Britain Herald, and three weeklies.
Schroeder, who said he had never been to either Bristol or New Britain before 10 days ago, said his meeting with both New Britain Mayor Timothy Stewart and Bristol Mayor Art Ward “sealed the deal” in his mind.
“I’m not here to save the papers. I’m here to give enough time so that the communities can save the papers,” Schroeder said.
The Journal Register Co. announced in November that it would close the two dailies and several weekly papers on Jan. 12 if it was unable to find a buyer.
Schroeder, a Huntington Long Island resident, said he read about the impeding sale of the papers in the New York Times.
He said there should be no disruption in publication of the papers, even though the sale won’t be finalized for another two weeks.
“We want to educate, inform, and entertain theses communities,” he said. That means delivering it to the community in the ways they want to receive it, he said.
“Whether they want to pick it up in the morning, log onto it, or get it on their cellphones later on down the line,” he said.
When asked why many news organizations are failing, Schroeder said, “Chain control and basically management by phone. I don’t think that works.”
“The margins in the newspaper business are not at the extent they used to be where you can carry the debt load that a lot of publicly owned newspapers are carrying now. We’re fortunate not to be coming into that situation,” Schroeder said.
As soon as the deal goes through, Schroeder said he plans to move from Long Island to either Bristol or New Britain, or Plainville, if Rep. Betty Boukus, D-Plainville has her way.
Economic Development Commissioner Joan McDonald, who was unable to attend the press conference, said she had not yet been approached by the Schroeder about seeking state assistance.
When asked if he planned to take the state up on its offer, Schroeder said, “I’ll take every nickel I can get.”
When pressed about how much he paid for the papers, Schroeder said he can’t disclose that information. He said he also doesn’t know if he was the highest or lowest bidder.
Schroeder’s background in news
Schroeder said he started his career at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner as a copy editor.
After that, he spent 10 years at Newsday first on the news desk as a copy editor and then as the director of technology in the newsroom. Then he spent eight years at magazines before returning to Newsday where he spent two of his five years as chief of staff for Ray Jansen, former publisher of the Hartford Courant who retired as publisher of Newsday amid the circulation scandal.
Schroeder left Newsday to become the publisher of BostonNOW, a free commuter daily he helped start. He said his investors were from Iceland on that deal and “when their economy collapsed so did we.” He said since the collapse of BostonNOW he has spent his time as a media consultant.
“I always wanted to retire as a gentlemen publisher being able to participate in the community, but also being able to run a business and do something I enjoy, the newspaper business,” he said.