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UPDATE: The Times-Tribune union, family owners sound off on sale of newspaper group

The printing press at The Scranton Times building in downtown Scranton.
Kat Bolus
The printing press at the Scranton Times building in downtown Scranton.

Union members of The Times-Tribune newspaper, one of four daily newspapers Times-Shamrock has sold, said they remain committed to producing "an award-winning community newspaper."

"For more than a decade, we've watched large companies and hedge funds purchase family-owned newspapers, and in many instances, we've seen the devastating effects," said Times-Tribune union president Sarah Hofius Hall. "We appreciate MediaNews Group's commitment to honoring our current labor agreements."

Times-Shamrock Communications sold its newspaper group to Colorado-based Media News Group, according to a letter sent to employees today. The sale includes The Times-Tribune, The Citizens' Voice, the Republican Herald and The Standard-Speaker. It also includes the company's weekly and periodic newspapers, commercial printing operations in Waverly Twp., Absolute Distribution Inc. and Times-Shamrock Creative Services.

Media News Group is owned by the hedge fund Alden Global Capital. Sharon Lynett, who is part of the family that owned Times-Shamrock's newspaper group, said in a post on Facebook that they do not approve of the sale.

"This was a transaction that we do not support or endorse," she wrote. "Alden does not reflect the business principles we feel are consistent with the stewardship of any newspaper."

Lynett is the publisher of Oswego County News Now in Oswego, New York.

Alden has stakes in nearly 200 American newspapers. MediaNews Group is the second-largest owner of newspapers in the United States.

E. J. Lynett bought the paper in October 1895. In 2005, it merged with the Scranton Tribune and became The Times-Tribune.

Bill Goodspeed is chair of the Times-Shamrock board that oversaw the newspaper group.

In an interview with WVIA News, Goodspeed said that very serious contemplation by senior management, the Lynett and Haggerty families and the 9-member board — which consists of three family members, five outsiders and CEO James Lewandowski — went into the sale of the newspapers.

He said MediaNews Group is retaining almost every employee.

"We don't know what their future plans are though," he added.

MediaNews Group did not buy the historic Scranton Times building on Penn Avenue. Goodwell is unsure if the newspaper will continue operations out of downtown Scranton.

"I would expect they'll move at some point, but I don't know when," he said.