Times-Advocate in Escondido, Valley Center sold to Roadrunner

Some newspaper operations merge, company says Jan. 5

North Coast Current

The second incarnation of Escondido’s Times-Advocate newspaper and its Valley Center counterpart have been sold to the Valley Roadrunner, according to a Jan. 5 news release from the new owner.

The owner is relatively new to the Roadrunner, as well, according to the announcement. Roadrunner Publications Inc. purchased the Valley Roadrunner newspaper, plus Valley Center Magazine and Boulevard Magazine, on Sept. 1.

“We are excited to expand our hometown family-friendly Roadrunner brand throughout our neighborhood and surrounding communities,” Roadrunner Publications President Justin Salter said in the announcement.

The Valley Center Times-Advocate has been merged under the Roadrunner name, the company stated. The Escondido Times-Advocate will continue to publish separately.

The recent versions of the Escondido and Valley Center Times-Advocate, founded in 2013 by real estate broker Kelly Crews, followed controversy in Valley Center when editors protested the Valley Roadrunner’s use of outsourced editing overseas under a previous owner.

The recent purchase by the Roadrunner’s new owner brings the tenure of longtime community editor David Ross full circle. After serving as editor of the Roadrunner until the controversy over outsourcing, Ross eventually joined the new Times-Advocate. With the publications now joined, Ross is again on the staff list as the Valley Roadrunner’s editor.

In 2013, Ross was outspoken about the Roadrunner’s former owner outsourcing local work overseas. After more than 20 years with the paper, he quit over the practice, he said in a commentary at the time, titled “Why I quit the Roadrunner: My introduction to the global economy.”

The publisher’s “solution to almost everything involving newspapers was to downsize and outsource — to China,” Ross wrote in the commentary on the Valley Center Press website on Sept. 7, 2013. The commentary was republished in East County Magazine. Ross wrote that the publisher at the time had “a crew that mixes American or British journalists with some Chinese staffers for whom English isn’t necessarily their strongest language.”

As for the recent sale and merger, real estate broker Crews called it a positive outcome in the Jan. 5 announcement.

“I’m very pleased with this turn of events and the potential trajectory for the benefit of our communities,” she said in the news release.

The original daily Times Advocate, which published for more than 100 years, merged with The North County Blade-Citizen 20 years ago, in December 1995, to form the North County Times. The merger occurred when Tribune Publishing, owner of the Times Advocate, sold it to Oceanside-based Howard Publications. The North County Times was purchased by Lee Enterprises in 2002, then by San Diego developer Douglas Manchester in 2012, who folded the Times into The San Diego Union-Tribune, which he then sold to Tribune Publishing in May 2015.