The Times Leader

Not to be confused with The Times Leader of Belmont County, Ohio.
Times Leader
Type Daily newspaper
Format Broadsheet
Owner(s) Civitas Media
Editor George Spohr
Founded 1879
Language English
Headquarters 15 N. Main Street
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18711
United States
ISSN 0199-0519

The Times Leader is a privately owned newspaper in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 1879, it was locally owned until being purchased by Capital Cities in 1978. The Times Leader, a morning broadsheet, is currently in a circulation battle with another Wilkes-Barre daily newspaper, The Citizens' Voice.

On November 27, 1907, the Wilkes-Barre Times printed a notice that it and the Wilkes-Barre Leader, both afternoon dailies, would merge, creating The Times Leader with the first newspaper to be dated Monday December 2, 1907.

The Times Leader, in the heart of coal country, was subject to a very bitter strike that began October 6, 1978. Over 200 union employees walked off the job in defiance of what they viewed as union busting tactics by the Times Leader's new corporate owner, Capital Cities. The four striking newspaper unions began to publish the Citizens' Voice as a strike paper.

Eventually the four unions were decertified. The Voice continued publication. This in turn prompted competition and created the unusual environment where Wilkes-Barre, with its population of a little more than 43,000, now has two competing dailies. The Times Leader was steadily returned to its position of prominence as the leading daily in Luzerne County, both in editorial quality and paid circulation. After the strike began, Capital Cities persuaded a young, dynamic editor, Richard L. Connor, to become publisher. During his eight years running the newspaper, Connor and his staff dominated the state's newspapers with awards for writing,reporting, and photography. The paper also became among the most prominent corporate citizens.

The Times Leader became known around the country as a growth platform for young journalists, photographers, and newspaper executives. Connor moved on to restore the Fort Worth Star Telegram to strength as the Texas economy faltered in the mid-80s. His successor as publisher, Dale A. Duncan, became publisher of the Pontiac, Michigan, Oakland Press, and then publisher of the Indianapolis Star. Duncan was followed by Mark Contreas who worked in several executive capacities with the Pulitzer Company before become head of the newspaper division for Scripps.

Capital Cities and the Times Leader were purchased by The Walt Disney Company in 1996. Disney in turn sold the Times Leader to Knight Ridder in 1997.

The newspaper continued to prosper under Knight Ridder ownership. It started publishing a half-dozen zoned weekly sections for different parts of metro Wilkes-Barre, affectionately called the "Baby Leaders." It also actively battled the Hazleton Standard-Speaker in southern Luzerne County with a heavily staffed bureau and daily zoned metro section.

The McClatchy Company acquired 32 Knight Ridder newspapers, including the Times-Leader, in March 2006. However, McClatchy quickly announced that it would resell a number of papers, including the Times Leader.

On June 26, 2006, McClatchy announced its sale of the Times Leader to Connor and investors including Frank Henry, Charles Parente, and HM Capital Partners, a Texas equity fund that seeks "investment opportunities in middle-market, cash generative businesses that have strong competitive positions with significant value creation opportunities." A handful of unidentified local business owners also acquired ownership stakes.

In 2007, to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, the Times Leader engaged in a circulation-building initiative in which it agreed to donate some proceeds to local charities. The newspaper staff was recognized for its editorial quality with numerous awards this year both in the state Associated Press competition and at the Keystone Press Awards. Behind its dynamic writers and photographers the Times Leader has gone on to win more Keystone Press Awards than any daily newspaper in the Wyoming Valley area.[1]

The Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company, parent to the Times Leader, purchased a Spanish-language newspaper, El Mensajero, in late 2007. It was the dominant Spanish-language newspaper in Northeastern Pennsylvania. El Mesajero folded in August 2011.[2]

The Times Leader grew its paid circulation by 1,500 daily subscribers and 1,300 Sunday subscribers for the first four months of 2008, again outpacing the industry. For the six months ending September 30, 2011, the Audit Bureau of Circulations put the TimesLeader's average daily paid circulation at 38,059 (M-S) and 59,273 (Sunday).

In 2011, the Wilkes-Barre Publishing Company reorganized into Impressions Media, with a strong focus on digital media. The company soon won a W3 Award for efforts in mobile media technology.

Later that year, publisher Richard L. Connor stepped down as publisher of the Times Leader, but remained an investor.

In 2012, Impressions Media was acquired by the private equity firm Versa Capital Management.[3]

On July 24, 2013, Times Leader Executive News Editor Joe Butkiewicz, a journalist with the newspaper for three decades, announced his resignation. “The company is changing, going in a direction with production and … it doesn’t fit my style,” Butkiewicz, 55, said in an interview after informing newsroom staffers at an emotional meeting. [4]


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