SALEM — EO Media Group’s presence in Oregon is set to get even stronger.
Pending court approval, the company will be adding two more newspapers to the fold with the expected additions of the La Grande Observer and the Baker City Herald, Heidi Wright, chief operating officer of EO Media Group, announced on Tuesday.
EO Media Group, the owner of The Astorian, has purchased two papers in Eastern Oregon.
“We’re excited to welcome the La Grande Observer and Baker City Herald into the EO Media Group family,” Wright said. “Our family-held company has deep roots in Eastern Oregon since 1908.”
The reported purchase price was $775,000 for the two papers. Fourth-generation EO Media Group owner Kathryn Brown, of Pendleton, said she is excited about the purchase.
“My cousins and I are committed to keeping local journalism alive in the rural communities we serve,” she said. “We look forward to providing credible and relevant news to Union and Baker counties for many years to come.”
Wright said that if all goes well, the sale will be completed July 1.
Western Communications Inc. owns the two Eastern Oregon newspapers, along with the Bend Bulletin and a few other publications in Oregon and California. The corporation filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January. Lawyers for Western Communications told the bankruptcy court the plan was to sell property and buildings, according to court records, and in a hearing last week said all the newspapers had offers.
“A few weeks ago, the (EOMG) put in a bid to take over ownership of the papers in La Grande and Baker City,” Wright said. “These towns are in close proximity to the company’s other publications on the east side of Oregon, which makes this a great opportunity to strengthen news coverage for all of Eastern Oregon.”
The bankruptcy court has the final say in accepting EOMG’s offer. Wright said the expectation is the court is going to give the approval.
Western Communications previously filed for Chapter 11 protection in August 2011, following a three-year dispute with the Bank of America, the company’s largest creditor at the time. The company emerged from Chapter 11 protection in April 2012.
Earlier this year, the motor failed on the 53-year-old press that had long printed the La Grande Observer and the Baker City Herald. Since then, the two newspapers have been printed on the East Oregonian’s press in Pendleton.