The parent company for The Roanoke Times may sell part of all of its assets, including the nine daily newspapers they own.

Employees at The Times got the word along with 12,000 other employees of Landmark Communications of Norfolk, which bought the Times along with the afternoon World-News in 1969 (the World-News was later absorbed into The Times).

Reports The Times website:

“I can confirm that Landmark Communications has retained investment banks JP Morgan and Lehman Brothers to assist in exploring strategic alternatives, including the possible sale of the company’s businesses,” said Richard Barry, vice chairman of the company.

“We are exploring strategic alternatives, and that can entail a number of possibilities, one of which is the sale of the company’s businesses,” he said. “It’s very early in the process.”

He declined to say whether the company would be sold in whole or part, or at all. He also would not say why a decision was made now to explore the sale of the company.

Landmark also own The Weather Channel, considered the most valuable of all the company’s properties.

For The Times, the sale comes at a time when newspaper properties are declining in value. Last year, the paper forced a number of longtime employees into early retirement and more cutbacks are predicted for the paper.

"The mood around here today ain’t the greatest," one Times staffer told me today. "The New Year is not starting off to be a good one.