The Berkshire Eagle


The Berkshire Eagle

Infobox Newspaper
name =


caption = The August 28, 1963 front page
of "The Berkshire Eagle"
type = Daily newspaper
format = Broadsheet
foundation = Daily since 1891, with weekly roots beginning with the "Western Star", founded in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1789
ceased publication =
price =
owners = MediaNews Group
publisher = Andrew Mick
editor = Tim Farkas
language =
political =
circulation = 27,521 daily, 30,958 Sunday in 2007. [Audit Bureau of Circulations [http://abcas3.accessabc.com/ecirc/index.html "e-Circ"] data for six months ending 30 September 2007.]
headquarters = 75 South Church Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201 USA
ISSN =
website = [http://www.berkshireeagle.com/ www.berkshireeagle.com]

"The Berkshire Eagle" is a daily newspaper published in Pittsfield, Massachusetts and covering all of Berkshire County, Massachusetts, as well as four New York communities near Pittsfield. It is considered a newspaper of record for the Berkshire County "hill towns" of Western Massachusetts.

Founded in the early 1890s, "The Eagle" has been owned since 1995 by MediaNews Group, which publishes three other daily newspapers in Massachusetts and several others in western New England, including the other leading newspaper based in Berkshire County, the North Adams Transcript. [Elfland, Mike. "Sentinel & Enterprise Sale Set." "Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette", January 8, 1997.]

History

In 1973, Roger B. Linscott working at the "The Eagle" won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.

"The Eagle"'s last independent publisher was Michael G. Miller, grandson of Kelton Bedell Miller, who founded the paper. Michael was president of The Eagle Publishing Company which owned "The Eagle", the "Middletown Press" in Middletown, Connecticut, and two daily newspapers in Vermont: the "Bennington Banner" and the "Brattleboro Reformer", as well as a weekly newspaper, the "Journal" in Manchester, Vermont; his brother Mark C. Miller was editor of "The Eagle", while brother Kelton B. Miller II was publisher of the Vermont newspapers. A sister, Margo Miller, a writer for "The Boston Globe", sat on Eagle Publishing's board. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3675/is_199502/ai_n8715231 "For sale: Newspaper group, good assets, lot of debt."] "Vermont Business Magazine", February, 1995.]

The paper was said to be struggling financially in the early 1990s, burdened by mismanagement and debt incurred by the decision to purchase new multi-million dollar four-color printing presses. That purchase necessitated that the company expand into larger quarters.

Formerly, "The Eagle" had been published using single color (black ink) printing presses that had fit neatly inside the flatiron-shaped Eagle Building on the aptly-named Eagle Street in Pittsfield. That old building, though fully paid for, was too small to accommodate the huge new color presses that management was seeking to buy. The ultimately financially disastrous, side effect of the decision to invest in the new larger color machines was that management had to find new quarters in which to install them. Rather than build new, the Millers chose to renovate a nearby former Sheaffer-Eaton stationery company paper mill which an Eagle Publishing subsidiary purchased. The cost of the entire project -- at $23.5 million for presses, land and renovations -- did not seem unwise at the time because the regional economy was booming along with local real estate and the national economy. [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3675/is_199502/ai_n8715231 "For sale: Newspaper group, good assets, lot of debt."] "Vermont Business Magazine", February, 1995.]

However, the Millers had expanded at the peak of a market cycle. By the time construction at the new headquarters was complete, with staff moved in, and 'bugs' worked-out from the new presses, the regional economy was feeling the effects of recession. "The Eagle's" advertising revenues plummeted. Worse, the local real estate boom went bust and the extra office space that the Millers had built into the renovated structure, space intended for renting out to help service company debt, was not attracting tenants. The result was that the Millers faced a severe cash crunch. Revenues were insufficient to service the hefty eight-year, $17.9 million mortgage the company had recently taken out with State Street Bank and Trust Company in Boston in order to finance the new renovations and presses. So bad was "The Eagle's" cash flow problem that it was rumored that State Street was even threatening foreclosure on the venerable old publishing institution, sometimes referred to as "the New York Times of small dailies." [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3675/is_199502/ai_n8715231 "For sale: Newspaper group, good assets, lot of debt."] "Vermont Business Magazine", February, 1995.]

The Millers sought relief by making it known in the industry that they were seeking a "white knight" -- an outside investor with deep pockets who would help the Millers weather the current fiscal storm (the preferred alternative), or at the very least a buyer for the entire publishing group (so the Millers would not have to sell assets piecemeal and break-up the company). [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3675/is_199502/ai_n8715231 "For sale: Newspaper group, good assets, lot of debt."] "Vermont Business Magazine", February, 1995.]

In 1995 they accepted an offer from MediaNews Group, a company founded by William Dean Singleton of Denver, Colorado. Singleton, the publisher of the Denver Post and owner of a string of daily newspapers throughout the country, was in the business of acquiring publishing properties at firesale prices. Singleton agreed to purchase the assets of the Eagle Publishing Company, including all its newspaper and publishing properties and debt, but conditioned his investment on absolute control. The Miller family was "retired"; the purchase by MediaNews was followed by staff layoffs and salary reductions, something the Millers had apparently tried to avoid. ["Berkshire Eagle Sale is Pending." "Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette", August 8, 1995.]

The transaction closed on September 1, 1995. Simultaneously, MediaNews Group sold the "Middletown Press" to the Journal Register Company. The following year, MediaNews added the "North Adams Transcript" to its western New England holdings.

Editorial Page

Eagle editorials since World War II have generally leaned hard "Left" with support generally given to Democratic Party candidates. (The last Republican presidential candidate endorsed by the paper was Wendell Wilkie in 1940.) The editorial page editors early-on railed against the War in Iraq, and since 2001 have generally been critical of Bush Administration foreign and domestic policies.

References


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