Historic papers back on the rails after brief pause at Station

May 08, 2024 at 05:20 pm by admin

Windows close, doors open in America’s ever-changing regional news market. Two stories here of local newspaper ventures expanding to secure future coverage of news in local communities.

First the story of El Rito Media, which is expanding with the acquisition of the Alamogordo Daily News, Carlsbad Current Argus and Ruidoso News… and news of fast-growing Cherry Road stepping into two markets after the closure of sister locals by MediaNews Group.

Rito Media’s story began a couple of years back, when a group of Republicans and Democrats – “contrarians all”, according to Dirks, Van Essen & April’s Sara April – agreed to experiment with a formula to save some of the local newspapers which were disappearing.

Their first purchase, in 2022, was the Rio Grande Sun in Española, New Mexico, where a year ago, it bought the Artesia Daily Press.

Now, El Rito Media has agreed to purchase from Gannett three more New Mexico newspapers, the Alamogordo Daily News, Carlsbad Current Argus and Ruidoso News. The deal, in which Gannett was represented by Dirks, Van Essen & April, is expected to close on or near June 1.

El Rito managing member Harvey Yates says their primary focus will be local news and opinion, but their success will depend on the support of readers and advertisers.

Chief revenue officer Frank Leto is a former publisher of the Las Cruces Sun-News and had group publishing responsibilities for the three additional newspapers, for which additional staff are being recruited.

We’ve written before about CherryRoad Media, now the nation’s fastest growing newspaper company, This time they’re launching two new Minnesota newspapers in Hutchinson and Litchfield, to fill the void left by the MediaNews Group closures.

The Hutchinson Leader and the Litchfield Independent Review – both published since the 1880s – printed their final editions April 24.

Cherry Road chief executive Jeremy Gulban said they reacted as soon as they heard the communities would lose their papers. “We don’t want to see these towns, and their citizens, fall into another news desert.

“Too many small towns across this country have faced that prospect in recent years. If we can help avoid that here, well, count us in,” he said.

The new papers, the Hutchinson Station and the Litchfield Rail are set to start publishing from tomorrow (Thursday), with chief operating officer Lee Bachlet saying the aim was for “seamless” community coverage.

“The citizens of Hutchinson, Litchfield and surrounding areas will go one week without a local paper, but only one week,” he said. “And then they will be served by familiar faces, albeit under new names.”

Hutchinson Station was the original name of the Leader, having been founded in 1855 by Asa Hutchinson, a member of the Hutchinson Family Singers. Litchfield’s paper also has a long history, intertwined with the St. Paul & Pacific Railroad from 1869.

Gulban says that while Hutchinson and Litchfield “don’t know us yet”, they can look to International Falls for an answer as to what kind of partner they will be. What they will quickly realise is we are a good, local partner committed to the success of our communities,” he said.

MNG also announced the closure of six weekly papers in the southwest metro –the Shakopee Valley News, Prior Lake American, Jordan Independent, Chaska Herald, Chanhassen Villager and Savage Pacer.

Pictured: The William Crooks steam engine that brought the first ladies to Litchfield in 1869 (photo Ken Buehler/Lake Superior Railroad Museum)

Sections: Newsmedia industry


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