Digital First Media, owner of the Pioneer Press, announced Wednesday that it is disbanding its 2-year-old digital-media experiment called Project Thunderdome.

Project Thunderdome, based in New York City, provided content to DFM newspapers and websites, focusing mostly on national and international, health, technology, sports, lifestyles and entertainment news.

DFM CEO John Paton announced the end to the project in a blog post.

He said initiatives started by Thunderdome will continue company-wide, but will be managed at a more local level.

"While our company will continue to invest heavily in digital development, increasingly our focus will be in local where we are the news and information leader in our markets," he wrote.

As part of the shut-down, DFM editor in chief Jim Brady will leave the company, as will Project Thunderdome editor Robyn Tomlin. Thunderdome employs 45 people.

Analysts writing in advance of Paton's announcement speculated that shuttering Thunderdome is part of a broader strategy by DFM's majority owner, private-equity firm Alden Global Capital, to cut costs as it readies the media company's 75 daily and hundreds of weekly newspapers for sale.



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