A wealthy investor with deep local roots has acquired the Long Beach Post, vowing to change the seaside city’s media landscape.
John Molina made the deal through his Pacific6 Enterprises, paying an undisclosed price to Cindy Allen, owner of the Post as well as ETA Agency, a Long Beach-based advertising firm.
Molina is the scion of a fortune built from Long Beach-based Molina Healthcare Inc., where he served as chief financial officer until about a year ago, when he was fired along with his brother, Mario Molina, who served as chief executive of the healthcare insurer.
Negotiations over the Post moved fast, according to Allen. She said Molina first approached her about six weeks ago, and the two concluded the deal for the 11-year-old online operation on June 18.
Molina’s first order of business was to name David Sommers, a former television news producer for NBC affiliates, as publisher of the Post. Also newly hired is Andrea Estrada, as the newspaper’s director of business development.
Estrada spent six years as a staffer doing multimedia advertising consulting with the South Bay publications of the Southern California News Group, a subsidiary of Denver-based Digital First Media Inc. The group’s properties include the 121-year-old Long Beach Press-Telegram, the city’s flagship newspaper, with circulation of about 40,000 daily and 60,000 on Sundays.
The most recent hires follow the addition of three former Press-Telegram reporters, including Melissa Evans, who was named the Post’s new managing editor.
The Post will retain its four current staff members, and will announce additional hires in the next two months, according to Sommers.
“We look forward to providing the community of Long Beach with the rigorous news coverage that it deserves,” Sommers said.
Sommers comment took on the tone of a rebuke to Digital First Media, whose majority investor is New York-based hedge fund Alden Capital. Alden has pushed for newsrooms cuts at Digital First newspapers across the country, including the 11 dailies that are spread over Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties and make up the Southern California News Group properties.
The Press-Telegram was down to four editorial staff members, before three were plucked by the Post.
– Matthew Blake
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