Thursday, February 06, 2020

Newspaper consolidation

Consolidation of the newspaper industry advanced in a huge way this week (short link): This is rather eye opening. This consolidation includes the Litchfield Independent Review and the Hutchinson Leader. This news is extremely unsettling and disturbing to see.

For many small town newspapers, times are tough. That is not the case everywhere, but when times get tough, the need to keep your doors open to continue serving your town outweighs your desire to continue operating as a locally-owned business. There's an obligation to keep the business alive, especially one that's been in your town for 100 or more years.

Look at these examples: the present-day Sauk Centre Herald was founded in 1880. It is still locally-owned by a group of families who live in the Sauk Centre area. The present-day Paynesville Press was founded in 1912 and is owned by the Jacobson family, who lives in Paynesville.

Meanwhile, the Hutchinson Leader was also founded in 1880, but it is now owned by Media News Group. This company was founded in 1983 and is based in Denver, Colorado. They also own the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

It's kind of crazy! Profits from the operation of Hutchinson's newspaper go to Denver, Colorado. Profits from the operation of Sauk Centre's newspaper remain in and near Sauk Centre.

Here in the Bonanza Valley, the Bonanza Valley Voice newspaper is not going anywhere any time soon. Now in our 51st year of business under the third owner, the Voice was started from nothing in the fall of 1969 and - with a huge amount of sweat equity from its first two owners - developed into a strong small town newspaper. The second owner, Howard Johnson, had it for approximately 45 years and built a strong and loyal base of readers and advertisers. That strong base allowed the third owners (my family) to take risks and flex our muscle over the last five years. Most of those risks have paid off. We have extraordinarily high circulation in a town of 750 people (~1,600 readers each week).

We took a severe beating in 2019. Not gonna lie, it was ugly! But we are soldiering on with some very tremendous support by the local business community. The support in Brooten remains very, very strong - for which we are extremely blessed and grateful. We push forward!!

More to say on the topic, but now it is time to make this day productive!!! Time to conquer the day!

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