|Times-Mirror Photo/Beverly Denny
Peter Arundel, 52, is now the sole member of his family with ownership in Times Community Media, which operates several community newspapers and websites in Northern Virginia and the Greater Piedmont.|
The former English and history double-major who never thought he'd be involved in newspapers has purchased the remaining family shares of Times Community Media, a Northern Virginia-based firm that operates four daily news websites, weekly print editions and two business magazines.
Peter Arundel, president and CEO of Times Community Media, bought the shares his mother and four siblings in early 2013, giving him 85 percent ownership in the media group.
Times Community's publications – the Loudoun Times-Mirror (LoudounTimes.com), the Loudoun Business Journal, the Fauquier Times-Democrat (Fauquier.com), the Piedmont Business Journal, the Prince William Times (PrinceWilliamTimes.com), the Gainesville Times and the Culpeper Times (CulpeperTimes.com) – serve more than 645,000 readers. Altogether the websites are visited more than 500,000 times each month. The Prince William Times, an eastward expansion of the Gainesville Times, was launched in January.
All the aforementioned websites can be found through the central company portal, NorthernVaTimes.com, which Arundel launched in the past year.
The remaining 15 percent of Times Community is owned by Bill Dean, president and CEO of M.C. Dean, one of the largest electrical and specialty contractors in the country.
Times Community Media was founded by the late Arthur “Nick” Arundel, Peter's father, in 1963 with the purchase of the Loudoun Times-Mirror from Hubert B. Phipps and Fitzhugh Turner.
“The family uniformly wanted this [recent purchase] to happen, primarily to keep [Times Community Media] in family hands,” Arundel, 52, said during an interview May 8.
Though family members have owned stake in the company, Peter Arundel has served as the sole operating officer and decision-maker in recent years.
A graduate of Duke University, Peter Arundel began working for Times Community Media in the late 1980s after three years working for WTOP news radio in Washington. He started his tenure for Times Community in the print division, served as his father's operating officer and eventually headed the Fairfax division comprised of the Reston Times and Herndon Times.
From there, Peter Arundel expanded the company by launching six more community newspapers in the next decade, stretching to Springfield and Gainesville. In 2008 he sold the Fairfax division to the Washington Post.
Times Community Media and the Fairfax County Times continue to maintain a content-sharing agreement.
In keeping with strong regional partnerships, Peter Arundel in the 1990s founded a regional advertising consortium that allows national advertisers to place inserts in community newspapers in the Washington D.C. metropolitan region. The consortium, the Washington Suburban Press Network, has grown to reach an estimated 2.5 million readers.
While the past decade has been a period of transition and sometimes-struggle for newspapers, Arundel points to the Warren Buffett-managed Berkshire Hathaway purchase of Media General publications as a prime example for how the industry remains vibrant and profitable.
“I see a great future in the business of community media,” Arundel said. “Newspapers still have the greatest amount invested in newsrooms, editing and dissemination in news, and therefore remain the most credible source of news in all of media.”
Arundel proudly noted the 65,000-circulation Loudoun Times-Mirror was recognized this year by the Virginia Press Association as the best newspaper in its size category for the third consecutive year.
When it comes to the changing mediums for journalism, Arundel said he's “platform agnostic.” He's quick to note the Times-Mirror's website, LoudounTimes.com, is the county's most-visited news site, and he believes Times Community Media's publications could eventually be strictly online, though that likely won't occur in his lifetime, he said.
Advertisers still see the strongest return from print newspapers, Arundel said.
"If consumers want their news online, that's great, as long as we can monetize it,” he said.
“Without a strong newsroom, democracy as we know it is at stake … A strong Fourth Estate is the last check on government.”
Of his partner, Arundel called Dean the “ideal silent partner,” given he's never, “not once” expressed a desire to steer news or provide editorial comment.
“I've always wanted to attend one of Bill's parties, but I've never gotten the invite,” Arundel said with a smile, referring to Dean's well-known lavish soirees.
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