Ann Arbor News to close, replaced by

The Ann Arbor News announced today that it will close in July and will be replaced by a new company and site, (Disclosures: I have been advising the project and used to work for Advance, the parent company.) From the publisher’s letter:

This is a difficult day for all of us at The Ann Arbor News. I’ve announced to my colleagues here that we will publish our last edition in July, when a new company called LLC will begin sharing local news and information with the community.

I don’t have to tell you what a special and unique place Ann Arbor is; we get to embrace and experience our community’s vibrancy daily. Our company knows that, too, and has chosen our special city to use as a laboratory to create new ways to share local news and information. Our owners have decided to continue to invest significantly in our market, and will be starting a new online media company to better service our tech-savvy readers and advertisers.

In July, will be born as an incredible community resource online, in print and around town. Like Ann Arbor, it will be a special place for everyone in the community to learn about, participate in and share everything that’s going on in our area.

We have shared with you before in our pages the extreme challenges that our industry and our newspaper have faced over the last couple years. Out of those challenges has come a new opportunity. Our new strategy reflects shifting media consumption habits and advertising revenue in the newspaper business, and particularly in Michigan.

As we say hello to, we will say good-bye to The Ann Arbor News. . . .

We’ll be building our new product from ground up in Ann Arbor, and we’re excited to work with you to help shape the design and features that will best serve our community and advertisers.

While we are inviting current Ann Arbor News employees to apply for positions with the new company, it is with a heavy heart that I let you know that job losses will be unavoidable. We have an extremely talented staff at The Ann Arbor News and they have done a tremendous job through very difficult times. There is nothing they did or didn’t do that would have sustained our seven-day print business model. . . .

We hope you will embrace this change with us and help us along this journey to shape our new online media company.

They are holding community meetings starting in April to do that. I’ll talk more about the project as its proceeds.