Sunday, July 20, 2008

Chain shuts venerable weekly serving 6 N.H. towns

Twin State Valley Media Network is closing one of the oldest weekly newspapers in New Hampshire. The publisher of the Argus Champion, which has covered the Lake Sunapee area since 1823, blamed the Internet and newsprint prices as he announced last week that it would publish its last edition on July 30.

"We see more and more of our readers and advertisers migrating to the Internet," Publisher Harvey Hill said in a notice to readers. "This, coupled with the rapidly rising cost of newsprint is causing us to lose money each and every month. By Jan. 1, 2009, our newsprint will have risen by 49 percent in just 13 months."

Hill didn't reply to inquires from Chelsea Conaboy of The Concord Monitor, who wrote, "The Argus has a circulation of about 4,500. . . . The company also publishes several New Hampshire and Vermont publications, including the Connecticut Valley Spectator, the Eagle Times, the Weekly Flea and the Message for the Week. It sold Hillsboro's weekly, The Villager, last year." (Read more) The daily Eagle Times, based in the chain's hometown of Claremont, shares territory with the paper, which exclusively served six towns: Bradford, Warner, Sutton, Andover, Wilmot and Springfield.

In today's Monitor, columnist and former editor Mike Pride, a summer resident of the lake area, mourned. "When a newspaper dies, a community loses its voice," he writes. "It loses the mirror in which it examined its best features and its worst. It loses the bulletin board for news of a neighbor's death or a schoolgirl's scholarship. It loses its watchdog, the reporters who kept tabs on town hall, the school board, local elections. When a newspaper dies, a community becomes less of a community. It suffers a blow from which it is difficult to recover." Pride recalled the gutsy editor who ran the paper, the late Ed DeCourcy, when it was based in Newport. (Encarta map)

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