Suffolk Life to shut down

By Michael H. Samuels

Thursday, June 19, 2008 09:16 AM EDT

Suffolk Life Newspapers is closing down as early as next week, according to numerous industry sources. The Riverhead-based media company, which delivers weekly newspapers through the mail to most Suffolk County communities, is shuttering its offices after being in business more than 47 years.

Company managers were told of the decision Tuesday. The rest of the staff was told Wednesday morning.

Details about the company’s future plans or employee severance packages are still unknown.

Suffolk Life is the latest media company to fall victim to the struggling economy and lagging advertising revenues plaguing the newspaper business.

Kevin Kamen, president and chief executive of Kamen and Co. Group Services, a print and digital media appraisal firm, said he was saddened by the news.

“It’s a difficult situation,” Kamen said. “A lot of people are going to be losing their jobs. It’s a bad message. It’s bad news for the economy on Long Island.”

He said he’s seen similar media companies fold throughout the country, but didn’t expect it to happen on Long Island so soon.

He said more media companies on Long Island will either close or become consolidated once Cablevision wraps ups its acquisition of Newsday. He added that Cablevision’s reach in print, television and the Internet will lead to increased competition for limited advertising opportunities.

“I am surprised because they had a pretty decent reputation,” said Kamen. “It is a difficult market right now for all of these publications. They’re all struggling. Nine out of 10 newspapers we appraise throughout the country are losing money.”

Suffolk Life Newspapers was founded in 1961 by David J. Willmott as a shopper-style paper with just more than 9,600 in circulation, according to the paper’s Web site. Published each Wednesday, its site boasts printing 35 editions and being the largest weekly paper east of the Mississippi with total circulation of more than 545,000 copies throughout Suffolk County.