Santa Barbara News-Press Declares Bankruptcy, Ceases Publication After More Than 150 Years


- The Santa Barbara News-Press is no more. After more than 150 years of newsgathering, the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper has posted its last online edition a month after the News-Press ceased publication of its print newspaper and went all-digital.

The death knell for the once-mighty but long-floundering News-Press came in the form of a bankruptcy filing last week by Ampersand Publishing LLC, the entity by which the newspaper does business.

Ampersand’s Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing was authorized during a meeting “on or about” May 1, nearly three months before it was filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for California’s Central District, according to federal court records.

The move also comes about three months after the newspaper relocated its operations and staff from the landmark building on Santa Barbara’s De la Guerra Plaza — where it had been housed for the last 101 years — to its printing plant in Goleta, the Santa Barbara Independent reported.

As of Sunday evening, the News-Press’ website appeared to include no mention of the bankruptcy or cessation of operation. There was also no mention on its Twitter feed, Facebook page or Instagram account, the bio of which still reads “Publishing since 1855 — the longest running daily newspaper in Southern California.” Friday’s is the most recent online edition of the publication posted on its website, which features a red-lettered banner stating that “The News-Press is entirely digital” and directing readers to its online edition. The Friday edition is the last the News-Press will issue, according to the Independent.

Dave Mason, the newspaper’s managing editor, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday evening.

Mason wrote in an email to News-Press employees that Wendy McCaw, the company’s owner since 2000, “filed for bankruptcy on Friday,” the Independent reported. “They ran out of money to pay us. They will issue final paychecks when the bankruptcy is approved in court.” The contents of the email could not be independently verified on Sunday.

Neither Jerry Namba, the bankruptcy trustee, nor Levene, Neale, Bender, Yoo & Golubchik, the law firm identified in the bankruptcy filing as representing Ampersand, responded to requests for comment via telephone or email on Sunday. A voicemail left on the News-Press’ main office line went unreturned Sunday evening.

The outfit is in dire financial straits, according to Ampersand’s Chapter 7 filing. A meeting of the company’s creditors — of which there are from 200 to 999, per the Friday filing — is scheduled for Sept. 1. But “no property appears to be available to pay creditors,” according to the document, meaning it’s unlikely the company, which claims to have less than $50,000 of assets, will make good on its $1 million to $10 million of liabilities.

Joshua Molina of Noozhawk, a Santa Barbara-based online news outlet, claimed credit for breaking the story in a tweet Sunday afternoon.