The Berkshire Eagle
The August 28, 1963 front page
of The Berkshire Eagle
|Owner(s)||Digital First Media|
|Founded||Daily since 1891, with weekly roots beginning with the Western Star, founded in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1789|
|Headquarters||75 South Church Street,
Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201, United States
26,708 Sunday in 2012
The Berkshire Eagle is an American daily newspaper published in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and covering all of Berkshire County, as well as four New York communities near Pittsfield. It is considered a newspaper of record for the Berkshire County "hill towns" of Western Massachusetts.
In 1973, Roger B. Linscott working at The Eagle won a Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing.
The Eagle's last independent publisher was Michael G. Miller, grandson of Kelton Bedell Miller, who founded the paper. Michael was president of The Eagle Publishing Company which owned The Eagle, the Middletown Press in Middletown, Connecticut, and two daily newspapers in Vermont: the Bennington Banner and the Brattleboro Reformer, as well as a weekly newspaper, the Journal in Manchester, Vermont; his brother Mark C. Miller was editor of The Eagle, while brother Kelton B. Miller II was publisher of the Vermont newspapers. A sister, Margo Miller, a writer for The Boston Globe, sat on Eagle Publishing's board.
The paper was said to be struggling financially in the early 1990s, burdened by mismanagement and debt incurred by the decision to purchase new multimillion-dollar four-color printing presses. That purchase necessitated that the company expand into larger quarters.
Formerly, The Eagle had been published using single color (black ink) printing presses that had fit neatly inside the flatiron-shaped Eagle Building on the aptly named Eagle Street in Pittsfield. That old building, though fully paid for, was too small to accommodate the huge new color presses that management was seeking to buy. The ultimately financially disastrous side effect of the decision to invest in the new larger color machines was that management had to find new quarters in which to install them. Rather than build new, the Millers chose to renovate a nearby former Sheaffer-Eaton stationery company paper mill which an Eagle Publishing subsidiary purchased. The cost of the entire project—at $23.5 million for presses, land and renovations—did not seem unwise at the time because the regional economy was booming along with local real estate and the national economy.
However, the Millers had expanded at the peak of a market cycle. By the time construction at the new headquarters was complete, with staff moved in, and 'bugs' worked-out from the new presses, the regional economy was feeling the effects of recession. The Eagle's advertising revenues plummeted. Worse, the local real estate boom went bust and the extra office space that the Millers had built into the renovated structure, space intended for renting out to help service company debt, was not attracting tenants. The result was that the Millers faced a severe cash crunch. Revenues were insufficient to service the hefty eight-year, $17.9 million mortgage the company had recently taken out with State Street Bank and Trust Company in Boston in order to finance the new renovations and presses. So bad was The Eagle's cash flow problem that it was rumored that State Street was even threatening foreclosure on the venerable old publishing institution, sometimes referred to as "the New York Times of small dailies."
The Millers sought relief by making it known in the industry that they were seeking a white knight — an outside investor with deep pockets who would help the Millers weather the current fiscal storm (the preferred alternative), or at the very least a buyer for the entire publishing group (so the Millers would not have to sell assets piecemeal and break-up the company).
In 1995, they accepted an offer from MediaNews Group, a company founded by William Dean Singleton of Denver, Colorado. Singleton, the publisher of The Denver Post and owner of a string of daily newspapers throughout the country, was in the business of acquiring publishing properties at firesale prices. Singleton agreed to purchase the assets of the Eagle Publishing Company, including all its newspaper and publishing properties and debt, but conditioned his investment on absolute control. The Miller family was "retired"; the purchase by MediaNews was followed by staff layoffs and salary reductions, something the Millers had apparently tried to avoid.
The transaction closed on September 1, 1995. Simultaneously, MediaNews Group sold the Middletown Press to the Journal Register Company. The following year, MediaNews added the North Adams Transcript to its western New England holdings. In January 2014, the North Adams Transcript ceased operations.
In April 2016, a team of local investors bought The Eagle from Digital First Media, the new name of MediaNews Group. The investor team consists of former Visa Inc. President John "Hans" Morris, local judge Fredric D. Rutberg, M&T Bank Chairman Robert G. Wilmers and Stanford Lipsey, former publisher of The Buffalo News and former owner of The Sun Newspaper Group of Nebraska.
Eagle editorials since World War II have generally slightly to the left of centerwith support generally given to Democratic Party candidates. (The last Republican presidential candidate endorsed by the paper was Wendell Willkie in 1940.) The editorial page editors, like most of New England, early-on railed against the War in Iraq, and were generally critical of Bush Administration foreign and domestic policies.
- "FAS-FAX Report: Circulation Averages for the Six Months Ended March 31, 2012". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved May 21, 2012.
- Elfland, Mike. "Sentinel & Enterprise Sale Set." Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette, January 8, 1997.
- MediaNews Group. "Our Newspapers". Denver, Colorado. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
- "For sale: Newspaper group, good assets, lot of debt." Vermont Business Magazine, February, 1995.
- "Berkshire Eagle Sale is Pending." Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette, August 8, 1995.
Currently, The Berkshire Eagle costs $1.00 Monday through Saturday, and $2.00 on Sundays.