By NATHAN SOLIS
After nearly 40 years in business, the family behind Eastern Group Publications has decided to sell the bilingual newspaper chain that has covered Boyle Heights, Lincoln Heights, East L.A. and several other Eastside communities.
Publisher Dolores Sanchez confirmed that the newspaper group is in talks to sell the company and hopes to have all offers in by the end of October. The change comes less than a year after Sanchez’ husband, who served as associate publisher, and son died a few months apart.
“It’s time to pass the torch to new, more energetic owners willing to take on the task of shepherding this venerable media group into the next phase of its existence,” Sanchez told her readers in August.
Eastern Group Publications was founded in 1979 when it bought a group of newspapers, including the Eastside Sun, out of bankruptcy. Sanchez became one of the first Latina owners of a newspaper chain.
The newspapers — the Eastside Sun, Northeast Sun, Bell Gardens Sun, Commerce Comet, Montebello Comet and Vernon Sun — reported on news from Latino communities that were often overlooked by larger newspapers.
“We wanted to respond to the criticism surrounding those neighborhoods and give them a voice,” said Sanchez, 81.
Over the years, EGP advocated for the people who could not reach their local representatives or felt they were not heard on fair wages, local politics and public health.
An editorial on Gov. Jerry Brown’s quick response to the Porter Ranch gas leak compared the state’s lax response to the Exide lead contamination: “We asked, ‘where are you Jerry Brown?’” Sanchez said. “It does not make sense for the communities of Bell, Boyle Heights to be overlooked.”
That kind of advocacy was something her late husband, Jonathan Sanchez, championed. His official title was Chief Operating Officer and Associate Publisher but he was also an active member of the community. He promoted the newspapers at public events, advocated for the Eastside, managed advertising and many other aspects for the news company. Last December, he died from cancer at the age of 64 in Highland Park.
“He had a lot of energy,” said Sanchez of her late husband.
The family was still grieving when Dolores Sanchez’ son from a previous marriage, Joseph Sanchez III, who served on the company’s board of directors, died of a heart attack at the age of 63.
The family considered closing the news service at one time, but we’re encouraged to find a buyer. Friends and longtime readers reminded Sanchez that EGP is a community institution. Some even offered to help publish the newspapers.
So, it was a difficult decision when Sanchez and her daughters, Gloria Alvarez and Bianca Preciado, both listed on the EGP masthead, decided to end the family’s connection to the papers.
“The tears were flowing when we decided,” said Sanchez. “We felt we didn’t have the energy or spirit to continue.”
They put EGP for sale and have received two good offers, she said.
When asked what’s next for a reporter who has been involved in the industry for over four decades, Sanchez said she will make up for lost time with family.
“I’ve been working since I was 16, I’ve always had an interest in the news. There are a lot of holidays, birthdays, anniversaries I haven’t been to over the years. Which the family took hard, but deadline is deadline.”
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