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Bulletin Bankrupcy Chatter 

A week ago Tuesday the Bend Bulletin, one Central Oregon's largest employers and most venerable institutions, quietly joined the ranks of thousands of American homeowners and filed for bankruptcy. The newspaper as editor in chief John Costa explained in a rare front-page editorial was at an impasse with its chief creditor, none other than the beleaguered Bank of America. According to Costa and an accompanying front-page news story by staff reporter Sheila Miller, The Bulletin has seen its revenues drop by roughly 25 percent since the peak of the building boom circa 2006. The drop in revenue caused the paper miss several performance measures in its $18 million loan to B of A. The bank responded by raising the paper's interest rate to a penalty rate of 12 percent, nearly double the six percent originally agreed to. Costa and publisher Gordon Black shared that the paper had paid more than $2 million in penalties to B of A and had skipped several payments in an effort to get the loan re-adjusted, but to no avail.

The pair assured that the paper would emerge stronger from bankruptcy and that the issue was a simple dispute with a single creditor that had proved unwilling to work with the paper's parent company, Western Communications. Both Costa and Black had sharp words for the bank and its tactics. News of the bankruptcy arrived like a bombshell in Bend where the Bulletin employs hundreds in its operation from journalists to pressmen and delivery drivers. But it also reverberated around the state and the country. Here's what others had to say about the Bulletin's decision to file Chapter 11. (EF)

From the Wall Street Journal, which covered the story on its national bankruptcy blog, Bankruptcy Review:

The publisher of the Bend (Ore.) Bulletin filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday after exhausting negotiations with its biggest lender - triggering a war of words on the newspaper's pages that sings to the spirit of its feisty longtime publisher Robert Chandler.

From the Willamette Week which covered the story on its staff blog:

The Bulletin says it will continue operations. American newspaper bankruptcies are a dime a dozen these days, but what makes this one national news is that the paper's editor, John Costa, wrote an editorial blaming Bank of America for the filing.

From OPB which dedicated last Friday's "Think out Loud" program to the issue with Gordon Black as a guest.

Several papers in the region ran a story yesterday about their parent company, Western Communications. Those papers used the phrase " files for protection" in their headlines, while other outlets covering the story put it more plainly: the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.


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