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Freedom Communications to sell 21 small newspapers

By E. Scott Reckard, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Newspaper group Freedom Communications Inc. agreed to sell 21 small papers in Florida and North Carolina and warned a group of corporate employees that they may lose their jobs as the company gets smaller.

Freedom did not disclose the terms of the sale to Halifax Media Group of Daytona Beach, Fla. Halifax said the staffs of the Florida and North Carolina papers would be offered jobs.

“We wanted to make sure that current employees would transition to the new owner and that the new owner shared our view of the importance of community journalism,” Freedom Executive Vice President Mark McEachen said in a statement Friday. He didn’t respond to a request for additional comments.

Freedom, an Irvine, Calif., company controlled by private investors since emerging from bankruptcy in 2010, has already sold its extensive broadcast holdings, along with newspapers in the Midwest, Texas and New Mexico. It has been in discussions about selling the flagship Orange County Register in Santa Ana, Calif., as well.

In addition to the Register, Freedom owns 35 other California papers, four of them dailies. It also owns the Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Yuma (Ariz.) Sun.

Nine Freedom corporate employees received written notices this week that they were likely to be fired by the leaner company at the end of July, according to a person briefed on the developments who was not authorized to discuss them publicly and insisted on anonymity.

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