By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Times Media Group, a Valley-based company with community weekly newspapers and websites throughout Arizona and California, has acquired The Foothills Focus, a community news weekly based in New River.
In addition to New River, the publication covers several other North Valley communities, including Anthem, Black Canyon City, Cave Creek and Carefree.
According to Times Media officials, the acquisition brings its weekly Valleywide circulation to 285,000 printed copies, information it says is supported by its most recent AMA independent circulation audit.
The company also operates several community news websites in the Valley, including EastValley.com, WestValleyView.com, Phoenix.org, Scottsdale.org, Ahwatukee.com, ChandlerNews.com and others with a cumulative monthly unique visitor count in the Valley of more than 500,000.
The company said its online audience numbers are also supported by its most recent independent audit by AMA.
At a time when many newspaper-centric media companies are curtailing circulation and managing declining operations, Times Media Group has famously continued to expand its reach and footprint, mostly through the acquisition of other similar media groups.
“What we have found is a model for success in difficult times, and that model relies heavily on highly motivated media professionals, adherence to practical cost structures and a value-based community news engine at its core,” said Steve Strickbine, Times Media Group’s founder and president.
Last year, Times Media Group acquired several high-profile and storied news titles in the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, which included the Downtown Los Angeles News, the Pasadena Weekly, the Argonaut, and the Ventura County Reporter among others.
John Alexander, the founder and publisher of The Foothills Focus, said his decision to sell his publication to Times Media wasn’t a difficult one.
“I have watched what they’re doing for a long time, and after some consideration, really believe this to be a great path for us,” he said. “It allows us to grow and allows me more time to meaningfully reconnect with the community and to build even stronger relationships with our advertisers,” Alexander said.
Alexander, who founded the paper in 2002, will continue to act as the Focus’s Associate Publisher, and work out of the publication’s main office in New River as he has for nearly 20 years.
Asked where he thought the community news industry is headed in the ever-changing digital age, Strickbine said:
“The bottom line is that where there are crises, there also often exist out-of-date ways of thinking, or paradigms. Our approach, our people and our commitment to giving communities the news they need, and that they can increasingly find in few other places, adds up to a pretty simple value proposition, one I believe readers and advertisers understand inherently and that they’ve come to trust.
“At TMG we hold the responsibility of being good stewards of that trust at the very center of our mission. “In other words, our future is bright,” he said.