Hearne: The Sun Also Sets, NPG Newspapers Issues Death Sentence to Joco Sun

Prediction realized…

Last December I asked:  "Does Steve Rose to the Star mean Death to the Sun?"

Today that rhetorical question was answered by the Sun‘s parent NPG Newspapers of St. Joseph.

"Everybody has to be out of the office by noon today, former Sun publisher Rose told me around 11 a.m. as I drove to Oklahoma City. "I got the official word on it three days ago."

Rose parents, Stan and Shirley Rose founded the suburban Johnson County weekly more than a half a century ago.

"It’s a very sad moment for me," Rose says. "And it’s sad for my mother who is alive and well – she started the paper with my dad – and she’s pretty emotional about it."

The unfortunate reality being, like any number of print pubs, the Sun was destined to set, Rose says.

"I was running the paper until November of last year," Rose says. "So I was privy to all the financial information. And they wanted to sell it back to me but I didn’t want it. I bought the parts of the company that I did want, so I have that. I just thought it was hopeless."

Part of Rose’s purchase includes The Hills, an upscale magazine run by his wife Carol Rose that is distributed to homes in Mission Hills, Sunset Hill, the Plaza and along the Ward Parkway corridor.

Full disclosure: I have written for The Hills since its inception two years ago.

To be clear, in Rose’s estimation – were he to have marshalled all his experience and expertise – might there have been a way to transform The Sun from money-loser to money-maker?

"No I don’t think so," Rose says. "I really think it was absolutely hopeless. I Haven’t seen the figures in a while, but I would say on a monthly basis it was losing as much as a hundred thousand dollars or more."

A little history: Steve Rose sold The Sun to Texas publisher Rich Connor in the late ’90s for $13 milllion. Around the same time that Pitch publisher Hal Brody unloaded the local alt weekly on Village Voice Media. Both papers have since floundered and changed hands, with NPG buying The Sun it in 2006 for "my understanding (was) $20 million," Rose says.

Now back to my December story about Rose leaving the Sun for the Star…

"Could this be the beginning of the end for the suburban weekly?" I wondered. "The jury’s still out, but certainly combined with everything, a case could be made…"

Uh, case closed.


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7 Responses to Hearne: The Sun Also Sets, NPG Newspapers Issues Death Sentence to Joco Sun

  1. smartman says:

    How did it go down?
    Was it see ya, now get the hell out? Severance packages? Letters of recommendation? Group hug? Last lunch? Drinking money?

  2. bschloz says:

    It was like ..turn in your Big Chief Tablet and white out.
    Always liked the Sun, Squire both great local papers.
    Wish Steve would buy The Star….I remember when he had the Star worked up with his daily….probably only local player that could do it.

  3. Hearne Christopher says:

    Stay tuned.

  4. Hearne Christopher says:

    I’m not sure I ever would have described The Sun as a great paper. It had its moments, served a purpose. But as a whole, it never really achieved critical mass. Not during the time that I read it.

  5. Gerald Bostock says:

    The late not great Sun
    After the Star made a concentrated push in Johnson county in the early 90s, one of the problems with the Sun was that it operated under the assumption that its readers had already read the Star. The Star was covering more and more events in the county, and the Sun chose not to cover many of those, or it created weak second-day stories that didn’t make sense if you hadn’t read the Star. The result was an incomplete product that displayed confusing news judgment. In more recent years, the Star has scaled back its coverage in Johnson County, but the Sun never was able to get back in the game and become a real newsgathering shop.

  6. Super Dave says:

    I use to Like The Sun
    The Sun had its day no doubt and back when Stan was really running it I enjoyed reading it. Once Steve and the others took over it lost something.

    But then I talking about back in the 70’s and 80’s and before that really.

  7. BarKeeper says:

    My Two Parakeets
    They loved dumping on the Sun in the bottom of their cage. That was the best reason to subscribe.

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