In January, two local papers in Massachusetts, the Malden Evening News and Medford Daily Mercury, ceased publishing both their print and online editions, after almost 140 years of continuous publication. Both newspapers were founded in 1880.
According to the Horgan family, which owned the newspapers, the decision to close up shop was prompted by the challenging business environment facing longtime advertising clients. The communities aren’t totally bereft of local news, as they continue to be served by weekly newspapers.
On the other side of the country, the Issaquah Press Group, which publishes a handful of local newspapers serving small towns on the outskirts of Seattle, Washington, announced that all publications will be shuttered on February 23. The local papers affected include the The Issaquah Press, the Sammamish Review, the SnoValley Star and the Newcastle News, as well as their combined Web portal, theeastside.news.
The Issaquah Press had been published continuously since 1900.
The publisher, which was acquired by The Seattle Times Co. in 1995, attributed the decision to declining revenues, which continued despite the introduction of new products and events. General manager Charles Horton writing in a letter to readers: “While we saw an uptick in revenue from local businesses, it wasn’t enough to offset losses from some major/national clients. Regrettably, even with deep expense cuts, the above wasn’t enough to overcome revenue losses that began over six years ago.”
The trend also affects weekly publications.
Back on the East Coast, The Journal Press, a weekly newspaper serving the “Northern Neck” region of the Delmarva Peninsula on the Chesapeake Bay, ceased publishing on January 11, with both its print edition and Web site shuttered. The newspaper’s longtime owner, Ruth Herrink, passed away in 2013. Her surviving family members were unable to stem continuing losses in local advertising revenues.
Further south, The Calhoun Times, a weekly newspaper serving the county of that name in South Carolina, ceased operations on February 2 after 124 years in business, publishing under various names during that time. For the last 87 years, The Calhoun Times was owned by the Morris family, which announced the decision to pull the plug in January, without providing a reason. The newspaper never established a Web site.
Overall, the total number of daily newspapers published in the United States declined steadily from 1,730 in 1981 to 1,480 in 2000 and 1,331 in 2014. Although more recent figures aren’t available, a search of the current database of newspaper listings maintained by Editor & Publisher returns 1,173 newspapers publishing daily weekday editions.