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168-Year-Old Santa Barbara News-Press Files for Bankruptcy, Closes Operations

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The Santa Barbara News-Press, a newspaper with a rich history spanning over 150 years, has filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7, according to court records released on Friday. The bankruptcy filing was made by its parent company, Ampersand Publishing.

The managing editor of the newspaper, Dave Mason, notified the staff via email that the news operation would be shutting down, resulting in the layoff of all employees. The closure marks the end of an era for the Santa Barbara News-Press, which had been serving the community for more than a century.

The newspaper recently made significant changes to its operations. Three months prior to the bankruptcy filing, it moved from its longstanding building on Santa Barbara’s De La Guerra Plaza to a space at its Goleta printing plant. Furthermore, last month, the paper ceased its print version and shifted to offering news exclusively online.

On its Twitter page, the News-Press proudly claimed to be “Southern California’s oldest newspaper,” founded in 1855. Over the years, the newspaper changed ownership multiple times. Notably, it was once owned by Thomas M. Storke, who led the paper to win a Pulitzer Prize in 1962. In 1985, The New York Times acquired the publication and later sold it to local billionaire Wendy McCaw in 2000.

Wendy McCaw’s ownership of the Santa Barbara News-Press was not without controversy. In 2006, executive editor Jerry Roberts and several other members of the editorial staff resigned over concerns about journalistic ethics under McCaw’s leadership. A documentary titled “Citizen McCaw,” released in 2008, chronicled the newsroom meltdown and the subsequent resignation of numerous employees. The newspaper saw a significant decline in subscriptions following the events of that period.

As the co-publisher, Wendy McCaw’s tenure attracted national attention due to the controversy surrounding the paper. Despite its storied history, the financial challenges and internal issues ultimately led to the unfortunate demise of the Santa Barbara News-Press, marking the end of an era for this esteemed publication.

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