September 22, 2023
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Santa Barbara News-Press files for bankruptcy and ceases operations


Ampersand Publishing, the controlling company for the Santa Barbara News-Press, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on July 21, leading to the paper ceasing all operations and putting an end to one of the longest-running newspapers in the country.

The Santa Barbara News-Press, which has been publishing since 1868, has not posted anything on its website since July 21.

Moreover, an email from Managing Editor Dave Mason read that Wendy McCaw, the owner of Ampersand Publishing and has many other holdings in the area, filed for bankruptcy and essentially ceased all operations with that decision.

“All of our jobs are eliminated, and the News-Press has stopped publishing,” the email, obtained by the LA Times, read. “They ran out of money to pay us. They will issue final paychecks when the bankruptcy is approved in court.”

Mason did not respond to a request for comment. 

The Chapter 7 filing, which was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California, pained a grim picture for the publishing company.

Anthony Friedman, a lawyer from Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Golubchik, is the attorney representing Ampersand Publishing in this case. He did not respond to a request for comment.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy specifically refers to liquidating all assets the company owns in order to pay off creditors.

According to the filing, the News-Press has 1,000 creditors to which it owes but it also claims to have less than $50,000 worth of assets, meaning that it is unlikely the company will be able to pay off the $1 million to $10 million worth of liabilities it has.

It is also unclear how creditors, who have a scheduled meeting on Sept. 1, will be able to recoup any losses given the lack of assets.

For years, the News-Press operated at 715 Anacapa St. in downtown Santa Barbara, a historic site worth about $15.2 million according to the Santa Barbara County Assessor’s latest report in 2023.

The paper moved its operations out of the building in April. 

McCaw is the owner of the building, but in 2014, the building’s deed was transferred from Ampersand Publishing to another holding company still owned by McCaw.

A similar transition was made from Ampersand to a different holding company for the News-Press’s second location, its printing press at 725 South Kellogg in Goleta, in 2014 as well.

About 808 people or companies were informed of the News-Press’s bankruptcy filing, many of which are subscribers who are owed at least a partial refund.

Other creditors include unpaid former employees, government entities, holding companies and more. The filing did not state which creditors were its largest.

McCaw, a Hope Ranch billionaire, purchased the News-Press in 2000 from the New York Times Company.

Since then, the paper has gone through a number of controversies, including in 2007 when employees filed a series of unfair labor practice allegations against the publisher that garnered national attention.

In the past 12 months, the News-Press ceased home delivery in October 2022 and terminated its print edition entirely in June — a sign that the paper was in bad shape before ultimately succumbing to closing down.