Bulletin Staff Report

The Bulletin’s parent company, Western Communications, sought protection from its creditors Tuesday under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code.

Through the process, Western Communications plans to reduce debt and strengthen operations at its news organizations in Oregon and California.

“This is the only way we can preserve our creditors’ investments and our owners’ interests in valuable community assets,” said Betsy McCool, chairwoman of Western Communications. “Common to our industry, we will put great energy into creating a new future for our media company.”

The company estimates that it owes more than $10 million to more than 1,000 creditors and has assets of $10 million to $50 million, according to the court filing. Its largest unsecured creditor is newsprint supplier Page Cooperative Inc. of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, which is owed about $946,000.

Western Communications previously filed for Chapter 11 protection in August 2011 following a three-year dispute with the Bank of America, the company’s largest creditor at the time. The company emerged from Chapter 11 protection in April 2012. In addition to The Bulletin, Western Communications owns five newspapers in Oregon and two in California.

The Chapter 11 process allows companies to reorganize while remaining in operation.

“This will give us time to further restructure our organization for a changing ­media world, a process we have been undergoing, as most newspapers have,” said John Costa, president of Western Communications.

“That restructure is critical to continuing to serve our local communities in California and Oregon,” Costa added.

Readers of The Bulletin will see changes in the coming weeks and months designed to create an economically sustainable and locally focused product.

Also on Tuesday, Western Communications’ attorneys at Tonkon Torp LLP in Portland filed motions for the court to approve payroll for 75 salaried and 170 hourly employees, plus 200 independent contractors.

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