The Maine Journalism Foundation is trying to raise $15 million to buy Reade Brower's vast newspaper holdings.
Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram Credit: Lori Valigra / BDN

The owner of Maine’s largest media empire is considering an offer to sell his newspapers to a new nonprofit.

That comes less than a month after Reade Brower announced he was looking to sell his vast Masthead Maine holdings or transition them to another form of ownership.

Brower said he is “open” to any model, including nonprofit status, if it is “financially viable,” according to the Portland Press Herald, one of four daily and 25 weekly newspapers he owns.

“My goal is just to find the next steward and that’s looking at what is feasible and then what I think is most sustainable and the best outcome for readers, employees and the community,” Brower told the Press Herald.

Bill Nemitz, a veteran of Maine news, revealed Sunday he was leading an effort to raise $15 million to buy Brower’s newspapers and support the Maine Journalism Foundation, which would act as the owner.

Aside from Nemitz, who will serve as the nonprofit’s president, several other former Maine and national media executives are teaming up to create the Maine Journalism Foundation. Its board includes Emily Barr, a former CEO of Graham Media Group, and Bill Burke, a former CEO of The Weather Channel Cos. The board is being advised by Public Media Co. Director Carlos Barrionuevo of Georgetown and Maddy Corson, a Portland philanthropist and former chair of Guy Gannett Communications, which used to own the Press Herald, Waterville Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal.

Brower acquired the Press Herald, Morning Sentinel and Kennebec Journal from businessman Donald Sussman in 2015. He soon scooped up the Lewiston Sun Journal, The Times Record, the Biddeford Journal Tribune, the Ellsworth American, the Mount Desert Islander and full or partial ownership of a slew of other weeklies and small magazines. Brower also owns small newspapers in Belfast, Camden and Rockland.

The Journal Tribune has since been shuttered, reducing the number of daily newspapers serving Maine readers from seven to six. The Bangor Daily News is the only daily newspaper in Maine not under the Masthead Maine umbrella.