The Ahwatukee Foothills News will continue to publish its twice-weekly newspaper and produce online content as usual, despite an announcement by company officials Monday that the Mesa-based East Valley Tribune will stop printing its newspaper and shut down its related Web sites by Dec. 31.
Freedom Communications, Inc., the parent company of both the AFN and the Tribune, filed for Chapter 11 protection Sept. 1 and had recently been working with a broker in an attempt to sell the Tribune and the company’s other Arizona properties, according to officials.
“Unfortunately, we have yet to identify a suitable partner to purchase the East Valley Tribune. As a result, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to wind down these operations,” Freedom CEO Burl Osborne said, as reported through a Freedom news release.
Renie Scibona, publisher of the Ahwatukee Foothills News and ahwatukee.com, said that the decision to cease publication of the Tribune marks a sad day for the journalism industry and the greater Phoenix Valley in general. Scibona added, however, that the AFN, in print, and ahwatukee.com, online, would continue to serve its loyal readers, advertisers and the rest of the Ahwatukee Foothills community without interruption.
“Our hearts go out to our colleagues with the East Valley Tribune,” Scibona said. “However, we want our readers to know that it is business as usual and we plan to keep publishing for years to come.”
The AFN, which began as the Ahwatukee Weekly News more than three decades ago, recently celebrated 31 years of serving the Ahwatukee Foothills community. Nearly two dozen employees work at the AFN.
According to Freedom officials, Sun City-based Northwest Valley Newspapers, which produces the Daily-News Sun and other publications, and Chandler-based Freedom Interactive, which produces the Clipper coupon book, will also continue normal business operations.
About 140 employees work at the Tribune, most located at the company’s main plant in Mesa, at 120 W. First Ave.
The Tribune publishes editions in Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler and Queen Creek, distributing 100,000 free papers in driveways and racks three times per week.
In addition to ceasing publication of the Tribune print edition, the company also will close its East Valley Tribune.com Web site at the end of this year, officials said.
During the transition time to the end of this year the Tribune will continue to publish its print and online products as usual and will continue to support customers, advertisers and the community, the company said. Employees and suppliers will be paid for the work they perform and goods they provide during the transition, officials said.