Even before the Manassas News & Messenger puts out its final issue Monday, a second media company has declared its intention to fill the void: the Times Community Media group will launch the weekly Prince William Times on Jan. 9. It now joins Prince William Today, also launching in January from Northern Virginia Media Services, and continues the competition for news and ads currently ongoing between the two companies’ Loudoun weeklies, the Loudoun Times-Mirror and Leesburg Today.
“It’s something we should have done a long time ago,” Times Community Media president Peter Arundel said Friday. His group already publishes the Gainesville Times in western Prince William County, and Arundel said he’d gotten many requests from county business leaders to open up shop in the eastern part of the county, “so that’s what we’ve decided to do.” Tara Donaldson, the Gainesville Times editor who has covered Prince William for 16 years, will edit the Prince William Times, which will focus on Manassas and eastern Prince William, Arundel said.
Last month, the company owned by Omaha magnate Warren Buffett decided to shut down the 143-year-old News & Messenger daily paper and its popular InsideNoVA.com website, effective Dec. 31. Northern Virginia Media, which already publishes Leesburg Today and Ashburn Today, then announced it would begin publishing a weekly paper, Prince William Today. The group followed that by purchasing the InsideNoVA website and Facebook page. But before that transaction occurred, Arundel purchased ads on the InsideNoVA page for the new Prince William Times, which are now promoting the new Prince William Today’s competition.
Bill Walsh, the executive editor for Times Community Media, which also publishes the Loudoun Times-Mirror and the Fauquier Times-Democrat, said, ”It’s just crazy for a community as vibrant as Prince William not to have great news coverage, and that’s what we’ve been offering people in the western county with the Gainesville Times.” He said with two new papers arriving at the same time, “I imagine there’ll be some competition, and that’s good for the readers.”