Media General is selling the Daily Progress‘ offices, predictably enough. Though the property assessed at $4M a year ago, the utter collapse of the real estate industry has probably reduced significantly the value of the building. This may, in retrospect, look like the absolute worst time to try to unload 29,000 square feet of commercial space. The fact that they’re doing it now speaks to how hard up that Media General must be for an infusion of cash.
Though it’s possible that this could be a really great opportunity for the paper to become decentralized and nimble (as one former employee pointed out in July), it seems more likely that this will mark the beginning of a painful slide for the paper. With the slim publication consisting of more and more wire stories, printed in Richmond, and owned by a Richmond-headquartered media conglomerate, it’s tough to see the Progress as a local paper anymore. If the value of advertising continues to slide, the economy stays in the tank, and the format in which news is delivered continues to change (witness Detroit’s dailies curtailing of home delivery and the Christian Science Monitor going weekly and web-based), it’s possible that Charlottesville will prove too small of a market to support a daily newspaper. What happens then is anybody’s guess.