Santa Barbara newspaper goes belly-up after 168 years in print

"All of our jobs are eliminated, and the News-Press has stopped publishing." 


The longest-standing newspaper in Southern California, the Santa Barbara News-Press, filed for bankruptcy on Friday. The paper has been running for 168 years.  

The more than century-and-a-half-old newspaper filed for bankruptcy on Friday through a Chapter 7 filing submitted by Ampersand Publishing, LLC, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. Thomas M. Stroke of the News-Press was the recipient of a Pulitzer Prize in 1962 a series of editorials exposing the John Birch Society.  

The filing is for liquidation, not reorganization. In an email to staff, Managing Editor Dave Mason said, "I have some bad news. Wendy filed for bankruptcy on Friday. All of our jobs are eliminated, and the News-Press has stopped publishing." 

"They ran out of money to pay us. They will issue final paychecks when the bankruptcy is approved in court," the email continued.  

The newspaper not too long ago also shut down its print version and went entirely digital for what was supposed to be a temporary measure. Rumors surrounded the paper at the time saying that the shift was permanent.  

They seemed to be following the trend of newspapers eliminating paper copies which has been happening more recently as alternative media has grown.  

Back in 2022, the paper also cited "economic challenges" as a reason the paper was halting the News-Press carrier to deliver papers. They instead opted for a same-day mail service to deliver papers to subscribers.  

The filing indicated that the News-Press has assets under $50,000 with liabilities amounting to between $1 and $10 million. There are between 200-999 creditors that have been supporting the local paper.  

The paper was bought out by Wendy McCaw in 2000 for over $100 million after it had been controlled by the New York Times.  

The bankruptcy comes after multiple missteps by McCaw. She interfered in a newsroom story in 2006 and many people quit as a result. The incident came to be known as the "Santa Barbara Smackdown." Many subscribers left the News-Press and followed the staff as a result of the incident.  

McCaw owes around $3 million in back pay and raises and hired temporary workers illegally as well.

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