The owner of the weekly Carrboro (NC) Citizen tells his readers that “my energy and enthusiasm for this newspaper have waned under the constant assault of all the worries associated with running a small business” and he’s putting it up for sale. (The paper will fold in the fall if it’s not sold.)
“I guess I’m just tired,” says Robert Dickson, who launched the paper in 2007.
He invites readers to bid for the Citizen, which he admits “has been a financial burden.” (“That’s definitely a part of the weariness I’m feeling,” he notes.) The weekly paper is “manageable,” though, “by the right person or group who sees the value of what we’ve built here, and who has the energy and resources to take on this task.”
Any takers, Mr. Dickson? I asked this week.
“We’ve had definite interest,” he tells Romenesko readers in an email. “I had two potential buyers visit the office yesterday. One I would characterize as a real possibility.”
I’ve also had a number of emails from readers concerned about the possible loss of “their” newspaper. A local elected official emailed yesterday and wants to meet about possible strategies for “saving” The Citizen.
Price? I haven’t gotten that far with the potential buyers, but if we do it should be an interesting discussion. As I told both of them, The Citizen doesn’t represent much of a financial asset but as a community asset it’s worth a good deal more.
For example, distribution for the July 26th issue (the most recent issue we have data for) yielded 7013 picked up out of 7616 distributed at our 196 drops. I’ll stack those numbers up against any community newspaper, free or paid. And it’s consistently over 90%.
So I have this little newspaper that the community loves (Carrboro as well as Chapel Hill, where most of our papers are distributed) with burgeoning readership but lagging revenue.
I’m fascinated to see where this process goes.