TIMES DISGORGES REGIONAL PAPERS The New York Times Company has agreed to sell 16 newspapers in its regional media group, three of which are located in North Carolina. The agreement, announced by the Dirks, Van Essen & Murray newspaper acquisition firm on Dec. 27, transfers the assets to Florida-based Halifax Media Holdings LLC for $143 million. Among the newspapers being offloaded by the Times is the Star-News in Wilmington, the Dispatch in Lexington and the Times-News in Hendersonville. Under the Times ownership, the regional newspapers have acquired a reputation for quality community news coverage and functioned as a kind of farm system to cultivate newsroom talent for the New York Times. Three newspapers in the group — the Gainesville and the Sarasota Herald Tribune in Florida, along with the Press Democrat in California — have received Pulitzer Prizes over the years.