Cox Media Group said Tuesday it has put a for-sale sign on The Palm Beach Post.
The Post — which has been nationally recognized for its journalism, including most recently for its heroin crisis coverage — will be put on the market along with the Palm Beach Daily News.
The Atlanta-based owner expects to find a buyer in six to 12 months, said Cox Media Group President Kim Guthrie. Cox Media Group also aims to sell the Austin-American Statesman and its Texas community newspapers. The privately held company will keep the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and its TV and radio stations nationwide.
“We have made the difficult but strategic decision to put our newspapers in Palm Beach and Austin up for sale,” Guthrie said in a statement. “Our company got its start nearly 120 years ago with a single newspaper in Dayton, and we have a long history of award-winning journalism in all of our newspaper markets.”
It’s unclear who might bid on The Palm Beach Post and Palm Beach Daily News. Gannett Co. of McLean, Va., has been an aggressive buyer of newspapers in recent years. Long the owner of Florida Today and the Fort Myers News-Press, Gannett bought the Treasure Coast Newspapers and the Naples Daily News in separate deals in 2016.
Gannett also attempted to buy tronc, the former Tribune Publishing, but that deal fell apart. Tronc owns the South Florida Sun-Sentinel and the Orlando Sentinel.
Wealthy individuals also are potential buyers for newspapers. In the largest such deal in recent years, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 paid $250 million for The Washington Post. And in 2015, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“We will continue to be this community’s number one source of local news as The Post has been for 102 years and the Daily News for 120 years,” said Timothy D. Burke, publisher of The Post and Daily News. “We look forward to continuing to serve our readers and advertisers.”
Despite the challenges to the newspaper business model from the advent of digital platforms and tougher times for retailers, The Post has extended its digital reach.
With its newspaper and websites, The Post reaches more people each day than ever in its history, achieving double-digit growth in its digital audience for the past two years. Digital subscriptions have grown by just over 30 percent over last year. The Post expects that number to continue to grow in 2018.
The Post also enjoys a higher proportion of seven-day subscribers than other comparable markets. The newspaper’s circulation increases by more than 25 percent during the winter tourist season.
Guthrie said The Palm Beach Post’s property at 2751 S. Dixie Highway also is for sale. According to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s office, the seven-acre parcel has a market value of $15.4 million.
The Post marks its 102nd anniversary in January and the Daily News celebrates its 120th anniversary this year. Both newspapers have been owned by Cox since 1969. When the publishing company came to Palm Beach County, the newspaper was known as the Palm Beach Post-Times and cost 10 cents.
Guthrie, who met with Post and Daily News employees Tuesday, recently announced plans to combine Cox Media Group’s newspaper, TV and radio outlets in Atlanta, mirroring an operation already in place in Dayton.
“As the media business continues to change, we must adapt our business strategy to navigate these disruptive times for the benefit of our entire media portfolio,” Guthrie said. “We have made the decision that we will be better equipped to operate our newspapers in Atlanta and Ohio, where we have the integrated opportunity with our TV and radio operations.”