Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Community Newspaper Holdings converts three papers to online-only after merging (in effect closing) several others

Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which recently "merged" or closed newspapers in Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky and Oklahoma, has converted a daily and a weekly in Southern Kentucky to online-only, following the strategy it recently took with a daily in Eastern Illinois.

Glasgow Daily Times publisher Bill Hanson announced Tuesday that the day's print edition would be its last, due to "steep losses in revenue" from the coronavirus pandemic "on top of burdensome print delivery costs, newsprint and ink expenses, and the production outlay required to run the presses. We urge Daily Times subscribers to continue to support the newspaper online."

Last week, giving identical reasons, CNHI did likewise with the Wayne County Outlook, a weekly in Monticello, which operates as a satellite of its daily Commonwealth-Journal in Somerset. The daily is now in a position to get the public-notice advertising for the county.

Glasgow will still be served by a weekly, the Barren County Progress, owned by a small regional group, Jobe Publishing Inc., which is owned by Jeff Jobe, this year's president of the Kentucky Press Association.

CNHI has taken the online-only strategy with one other paper, the Shelbyville Daily Union in Illinois. Its primary strategy has been to "merge" smaller papers into larger ones, in effect closing them. That began in Alabama in April, when the North Jefferson News in Gardendale was merged with The Cullman Times. The towns are 40 miles apart and in non-adjacent counties.

That looked much like the May merger of The Morehead News and two other weeklies in northeastern Kentucky with CHNI's Ashland Daily IndependentIn Indiana, the company merged the Batesville Herald-Tribune and the Rushville Republican into the Greensburg Daily News, and the Zionsville Times-Sentinel into the Lebanon Reporter; in Iowa, it merged the Centerville Iowegian into the Ottumwa Courier, and The Pella Chronicle and the Knoxville Journal Express with the Oskaloosa Herald; and in Oklahoma, it folded the Edmond Sun into the Norman Transcript, though the two towns are on opposite sides of Oklahoma City.

CNHI news vice president Bill Ketter told The Rural Blog, "Again, the reason is financial, tied to insufficient local advertising and subscribers. We are providing news coverage of these communities by the merged newspaper. CNHI’s goal is to save newspapers and serve our local communities in the best way we can. But given the overall economic challenges facing the newspaper industry, we cannot operate our smallest markets at a financial loss. Thus the alternatives of digital only and merged newspapers."

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