The sale of the Block Island Times is expected to become final on January 1st. The weekly’s owners for the last decade, Fraser and Betty Lang, are selling the paper to Michael Schroeder, who owns several Connecticut newspapers, including the New Britain Herald.
Once he takes over, Schroeder says he plans to spend one or two weeks a month on Block Island.
"I’ll be a very active publisher," Schroeder told RIPR. "I’m coming out on Sunday and spending the first week there, and then I’m going to be there regularly."
Schroeder said he's looking forward to getting to know Block Island better, adding that he hopes readers will give him feedback.
"I want people to see themselves in the paper. You know, it’s names and faces," said Schroeder. "Because that’s what makes up a community, and that’s what we try and do. And I want to keep that up."
Schroeder declined to comment on allegations that he wrote a story, under a fake byline, containing plagiarized sections. The article, which ran in two of his Connecticut papers, appeared to be aligned with the business interests of casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, who has been linked to Schroeder through the controversial sale of a major Las Vegas daily to the Adelson family.
In that deal, Schroeder's name was listed as the manager of News + Media Capital Group LLC, a company apparently created to purchase the Las Vegas Review-Journal. After the sale, the Adelson family was revealed to be the main investor. In another unusual twist for Rhode Island, the Las Vegas paper was sold by New Media Investment Group, the parent company of The Providence Journal.
A statement from the new owners following the sale indicates that New Media will continue to operate the Review-Journal.
Schroeder maintains that the Las Vegas deal is completely independent from his purchase of the Block Island Times and says he never planned to operate the Review-Journal. As for the Block Island Times, "that will be my handiwork," Schroeder said.
When asked how he became interested in purchasing the Block Island paper, Schroeder said he had not been to the island in 25 years but was contacted by a broker he knew from a previous business deal. According to Schroeder, the broker's call prompted him to travel to Block Island in September to check it out.
The former co-publisher of the Block Island Times, Fraser Lang, is a member of Rhode Island Public Radio's board of directors. He announced the sale of the paper on Christmas Day.
On page two of the January edition of the paper, Schroeder promised readers he would maintain the editorial direction of the paper and focus on serving the community.