Times Media Group, the fast-growing publisher of more than 15 Arizona publications and websites, has acquired Southland Publishing, the Southern California-based publisher of several newsweeklies, magazines and digital media properties with a combined monthly circulation of more than one million readers and web visitors.
Steve Strickbine, president of Times Media Group, which owns the Pulitzer-Prize-winning East Valley Tribune, the award-winning Scottsdale Progress and 13 other Valley media platforms, called the Southland purchase a strategic expansion step into Southern California.
Noting that the acquisition further increases the reach of TMG’s successful community news operation, Strickbine said, “Our primary goal at Times Media Group is to grow the number of readers we serve with community news, because we believe telling great stories and bringing tangible value to our advertising partners is a recipe for continued success not just in Arizona, but anywhere.
“The Southland publications have always been special in their connection with the communities they serve,” he added. “We can’t wait to further solidify that connection and do even more to demonstrate our commitment to our readers, our advertisers and our neighbors.”
Southland Publishing, founded in 1997, has five offices located in Downtown Los Angeles, Ventura County, Santa Monica, Pasadena and San Diego.
The TMG purchase includes all five newsweeklies: the LA Downtown News, the Pasadena Weekly, The Argonaut, the VC Reporter and the San Diego City Beat.
Additionally, TMG has purchased Southland’s three monthly magazines: Arroyo Monthly, Playa Vista Direct and Ventana Monthly.
Southland’s associated digital properties are also included in the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
"Southland Publishing and I have been very proud of these publications, and our employees who have made them such important parts of the communities they serve, and we are confident that Steve Strickbine and his company will be wonderful stewards of these publications and that the readers and advertisers that continue to support them are in good hands," said Southland Publishing’s President, Bruce Bolkin.
Strickbine, 48, quit his job as a CPA in 1997 to start a small community newspaper in North Scottsdale.
Today, TMG publishes the East Valley Tribune (EastValley.com), the Ahwatukee Foothills News (Ahwatukee.com), the West Valley View, Nearby News publications, the San Tan Sun News, the Gilbert Sun News, the College Times, Lovin' Life After 50, The Entertainer! Magazine, North Valley Magazine, 85086 Magazine, 85085 Magazine and the travel and information website Phoenix.org.
The company also owns AZ Integrated Media, a media distribution and custom publishing company.
“For years, I’ve heard the conventional wisdom about local news being dead – and I couldn’t disagree more,” said Strickbine.
“We have always bet against that idea as a company we’ve been very successful doing it,” he continued.
“Is it easy to do? Of course not. We need to work harder and be smarter than the big metro newspapers, to show aspect of the communities we cover that matter to readers and too often get ignored.
“We also need to offer better, more engaging advertising opportunities to our advertisers. If we do that, we have every opportunity to succeed. And the communities we serve will be the better for it.”
David Comden, Southland Publishing vice president, echoed Strickbine’s sentiments.
“Local newsweeklies and magazines continue to be a vital part of each community they serve. While many news outlets reach for a broader audience, readers want and need local news they can count on. I am confident that Strickbine Publishing will do great work for each community they serve into the future,” said Comden.
Strickbine called each of the Southland publications “exactly the kind of special journalism operations we want to be a part of TMG.”
He cited the LA Downtown News – an award-winning publication that has covered the central core of the city since 1972 – as an example of Southland’s quality and independent spirit.
“What these publications do is the most important thing in journalism, at least as we see it,” said Strickbine. “Every community has stories that need to be told. What’s happening at City Hall? What business just opened? Which ones have closed? Who are our leaders and what sort of transparency and accountability do they practice?
“The more local we can be, the more in-depth, the better we connect people to one another and to the community. We love being a part of that and we look forward to working with these publications starting as soon as possible.”