Over 50 Employees Lose Their Jobs As Village NetMedia Ceases Operations

The owner of Maine newspaper publisher Village NetMedia announced Friday that he would be ceasing operations of his four papers, effective immediately.

That means 56 people are losing their jobs, the Bangor Daily News reports. There will be no severance.

The four weekly papers and related websites that are being shuttered served Rockland (The Village Soup Gazette), Belfast (The Village Soup Journal), Bar Harbor (the Bar Harbor Times), Augusta (the Capital Weekly), and entertainment rag The Scene.

“The profound changes in the newspaper publishing business, a weak economy and our investment in new products created severe financial challenges. Over the recent months, I have worked with outside professionals to achieve a financial restructuring that would allow us to continue. These efforts failed as of 3 p.m. today, March 9, 2012. We can no longer sustain our operations,” owner Richard Anderson said in a statement.

Before the Village Soup papers were purchased by Village NetMedia in June 2008, they were called The Courier-Gazette in Rockland, The Camden Herald in Camden, the Republican Journal in Belfast, and the Bar Harbor Times. The first three of those papers are each more than 140 years old, and the Bar Harbor Times was nearly 100 years old.

The Bangor Daily News printed a follow-up yesterday about what’s in store for the laid-off Rockland employees. On Monday, they met with a career counselor from the state’s rapid response team.

That counselor’s former job? Editing the Camden Herald, a job he lost when Village NetMedia purchased the paper in 2008.