Saturday, May 19, 2012

Reflections on a Company that I Truly Loved

In 2001, I took a job, as a Regional Sales and Market Development Manager, with Freedom Communications, Publishers of the Orange County Register and Daily and Weekly Newspapers in California, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida.Freedom was owned by the family of it's Founder R C  Hoiles. Year in and year out, these are award winning newspapers and there are a few Pulitzer Prize winners in the mix too!

 In 2004, when several of the family members "wanted out"  the company was sold to a Blackstone Provident. Then things went seriously wrong.  Freedom entered into bankruptcy protection, and when it emerged from the bankruptcy it was heavily in debt.   In 2010 it sold the East Valley Tribune to 13th Street Media, a deal which included the the Northwest Valley Daily News in Surprise AZ, and the Clipper

In January of this year, Freedom Communications sold the Seymour Tribune, later in Q1 they sold off the Freedom properties in New Mexico, and this past week the Papers in Alton, IL; Jacksonville, IL; Sedalia MO; and Lima, OH.  Yesterday they sold the papers, and their ancillary publications, in Odessa, Brownsville, Harlingen, McAllen, and Weslaco, Texas.  What remains of Freedom are the Orange County Register, the Colorado Springs Gazette, and Daily Newspapers in Yuma, AZ, Victorville, Barstow, Porterville, and Marysville, CA; Burlington, Jacksonville, Kinston, Gastonia and New Bern, NC;  Panama City and the Destin, FL. and their ancilary publications which consist of weekly newspapers, Spanish language publications, magazines, custom publishing and shoppers

Shortly after the sale of the Midwest paper's was announced a Facebook Group called Freedom Family: Until we meet again, appeared. As of this morning there are 600 plus members of this group, and I can say that the ones that I know are my friends and to an extent they are part of  my family.  Jon Segal, the now retired President of Freedom Newsapers,  said it best in his post last night.  The photo is was taken at the Freedom Community Newspaper Publishers and Ad Directors Conference in Tampa Florida in possibly 2004. Disclaimer I have no idea why Arnold is in the background.

Former Freedom Colleagues:

While I am not particularly proficient or prolific in using Facebook, I was pleased to see that it is now being used to connect former Freedom associates. I confess a certain sadness as I watch the dismemberment of Freedom as we knew it. Perhaps many of you feel the same.

I know I will remember Freedom as a company that:
  •  treated associates with respect
  •  practiced community stewardship
  •  made a lot of money while publishing quality newspapers
  •  espoused individual liberty and free enterprise
  •  had owners who cared about the associates as well as the newspapers
  •  believed in autonomy 
  •  took a long term view
  • fought for open government and the  public's right to know
  • had a great group of associates who worked hard and played hard
  • had Fighting Libertarian T-shirts, (Jim, you are probably having a stroke over the word Liberterian, however as Jon said. Freedom believed in autonomy, and to that extent they accepted my Conservative Republican views and I never wore anything with the word Libertarian on it)  Freedom Schools, late night karaoke, talent shows, go  cart  races, cornhole contests and, of course, parades down Bourbon Street. Les bon temps rouler!
Indeed, those were the days.
My best personal wishes to you all. I hope you will stay in touch.


In retrospect,  Dawn you were right I never should have left and should have thought through my decision.  I am grateful for the friends and mentors that I have met through Freedom.  Yes we we're a family and we still are. 

Freedom Long May She Reign,  Till We Meet Again....


No comments:

Post a Comment