Village NetMedia, the parent company of a handful of weekly newspapers in central and coastal Maine, announced Friday it was closed, effective immediately. A total of 56 people lost their jobs as a result.
In a statement posted Friday afternoon on the websites of the four VillageSoup publications, CEO Richard Anderson said "the company will cease operation beyond that which is necessary to complete the closure process." He cited financial strain due to changes to the newspaper publishing industry, the economy and "our investment in new products," and said efforts over the past few months to restructure failed. The company published the Bar Harbor Times, the Capital Weekly, VillageSoup Gazette in Rockland and VillageSoup Journal in Belfast, as well as an entertainment publication called the Scene. According to the Bangor Daily News, employees were notified of the closure by email and will not receive severance.
Anderson in 2008 bought Courier Publications, which published six weekly newspapers in Rockland, Belfast, Camden, Bar Harbor and Augusta. After the purchase, VillageSoup's three print editions were discontinued, along with a Belfast paper and another locally owned paper that Courier had acquired. Since then, the company has restructured some of its print products, including merging two papers and reducing the number of editions.
Last year, the company closed its Rockland printing facility, laying off 17 people.