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LOWER POTTSGROVE PA – Newspaper reporter Michael Hays, who covers Lower Pottsgrove (PA) and Limerick (PA) townships for The (Pottstown PA) Mercury newspaper, reportedly will leave that position at mid-month and join the staff of, an interactive, online-only news resource that reports daily from municipalities in the Upper Perkiomen Valley and much of the U.S. Route 422 corridor.

Elected and appointed officials of several townships in WhatsThe422’s coverage area apparently were notified Tuesday (March 10, 2009) of Hays’ move. The Mercury is the legal publication of record for Lower Pottsgrove and many other municipalities, boards and organizations within a 25-mile radius of Pottstown.

Hays is the latest in a line of reporters, photographers and other staffers to depart from Pottstown’s venerable daily newspaper during recent months. Its publicly held corporate parent, Journal Register Company (JRC), filed last month for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and said it intends to become privately held by its creditors.

In other newspaper industry news affecting regional readers:

  • JRC’s next hearing at bankruptcy court in New York is scheduled for St. Patrick’s Day (Tuesday, March 17, 2009). The attorney general’s office in Connecticut – home to Journal Register’s flagship publication, The New Haven (CT) Register – last week filed an objection to JRC’s plan to pay its top executives up to $1.7 million in bonuses for laying off staffs and closing newspapers, The Associated Press reported. JRC in recent months closed newspapers in Germantown, Mount Airy, West Oak Lane, Olney, Oxford, Coatesville, Downingtown, Quakertown, Doylestown, Conshohocken, Plymouth Meeting and elsewhere in its so-called Philadelphia cluster. Mercury Editor Nancy March, in a column published in Sunday’s (March 8, 2009) edition, said some readers sought assurances her paper was “not leaving town” too. To which, she rhetorically replied, “We’re here to stay, thanks for asking.”
  • A Time Magazine article at its website Tuesday (March 10, 2009) declared the Philadelphia Daily News as first on its list of “10 Most Endangered Newspapers In America.” Daily News corporate parent Philadelphia Newspapers LLC, like Journal Register, also filed for bankruptcy protection. It announced plans to make The Daily News an edition of the companion Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper in a cost-cutting move.

Editor’s Addenda: Philadelphia Newspapers’ Chief Executive Officer Brian Tierney on Wednesday (March 11, 2009) ridiculed the Time Magazine report cited above. Read his response here.

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