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Moon group buys The Washington Times

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Washington Times, a newspaper that has served the nation's capital and a worldwide readership for 28 years, has been sold to a group operating on behalf of the paper's founder, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The new owners promised the paper will continue to provide a robust voice in current affairs.

"We'll continue to keep the highest standard in journalistic excellence in this leading democratic country that upholds the values of freedom, faith, family and service," said Douglas D.M. Joo, speaking on behalf of the five-member board that will oversee The Times.

Mr. Joo said the paper will expand its print and multimedia products, and will boost circulation and offerings such as sports, metropolitan news and entertainment coverage.

Editor-at-large Arnaud de Borchgrave said he was "elated to hear that the newspaper I had the privilege of editing for almost seven years is back in fighting trim after a patch of rough weather." Mr. de Borchgrave, who helmed the paper during the 1980s, said it "will continue to be a vital voice in reporting domestic and foreign stories frequently ignored by the dominant media culture."

The deal to sell The Times to TWT Holdings, which is owned by HSA-UWC, was finalized Monday evening. It comes at the end of a complex year for the paper, which underwent a management shuffle, staff and circulation cuts, and now is once again being led by many of those who operated the paper before the transfer.

The selling price was $1, plus assumption of liabilities, which the new owners said will be paid from an escrow account.

Mr. Joo said the paper benefited over the years from a "considerable amount of financial support" from Rev. Moon, the founder of the worldwide Unification Church. He said that commitment remains strong.

At a time when papers across the country have closed shop or moved online, Mr. Joo said, the paper is committed to boosting print circulation even as it broadens its multimedia offerings.

Thomas McDevitt, the incoming president of The Times, said the organization will likely expand into radio and will broaden its presence on the Web.

"The opportunity nationwide is growing, even in the past year or two, for a nationwide audience," Mr. McDevitt said.

Mr. Joo said Rev. Moon's vision for the paper rested on having a conservative voice on its editorial pages, and that the market for that voice is as promising as ever, particularly with the brand The Times has established over three decades.

"That brand [had] so many ups and downs, now is the time to blossom," he said.

In a morning meeting at the paper's headquarters in Northeast Washington, Mr. Joo thanked the staff for their efforts during what he said were difficult times for the paper.

"You have made a monumental effort to keep this company going during the past year," Mr. Joo said. "Even during times of uncertainty and unsettling rumors, you stayed the course."

He said the paper will hire "the right people, as needed," and that operating plans will be developed based on market research.

The Times has a six-month lease on its building on New York Avenue, and has an option to buy the building at the end of that term.

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