March 22, 2012 | last updated March 28, 2012 10:11 am

UPDATE: Midcoast papers find new offices, aim for April 5 relaunch

A midcoast publisher says he plans to revive three weekly newspapers on April 5.

Reade Brower, president of the Free Press, says he has secured new office space in Rockland and Camden, but the future of the Belfast office remains unclear.

"We still plan our launch for Thursday, April 5, with the re-introduction of the Rockland Courier-Gazette, Camden Herald and Belfast Republican Journal," Brower says.

Residents in these towns were stunned by the sudden loss of their weekly newspapers.

Brower last week closed on the sale of the VillageSoup assets, including trade names, equipment, furniture, computers, archives and the like. The company will honor any subscriptions it can substantiate within its coverage area, he says.

Brower says he is bringing back the original newspapers for each town: the Rockland Courier Gazette, the Camden Herald, and the Belfast Republican Journal; but the VillageSoup's online platform will be used. "You have a 46-year-old tradition -- I never understood why they went away from that model and went with the whole new branding," he said.

The Rockland Courier-Gazette will be based out of the Breakwater building on Route 1, Brower says, while the Camden Herald will be relocated to the Sharp's Wharf in early April. The Belfast Telegraph will continue to operate out of its current offices until a long-term location can be found, he says.

Richard Anderson, CEO of Village NetMedia, bought Courier Publishing in 2008, realigning the storied papers into the VillageSoup Gazette in Rockland and VillageSoup Journal in Belfast. He also published the Bar Harbor Times, the Capital Weekly and an entertainment publication called the Scene.

Anderson abruptly announced Village NetMedia would immediately cease its publications on March 9, laying off 56 people.

Brower says administrative staff started work March 19 and the news staff will start soon. "Most of the staff will be old staff," he said.

Brower says the newsstand price will drop from $1.50 to $1, but online news will no longer be free – a model he believes is more sustainable. "I think people need to be willing to pay 8 to 10 cents a day to get fresh news online from a well-staffed news room and sports room," he says.

This story was updated to correct Reade Brower's title.


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