Matchmaking, but for weeklies
Twenty or so years ago, half of the weekly newspapers in the United States were independent, according to research into news deserts by Penelope Muse Abernathy from the University of North Carolina. In 2018, less than one third of weeklies in UNC’s database were independently and locally owned.
In the past 15 years, the country’s seen a net loss of 2,100 newspapers, Abernathy said: “All but 70 were three times a week or less.”
“What we found is the counties that have lost newspapers tend to have residents that are much poorer, older and really economically struggling,” she said. “It is still possible to be prosperous with community newspapers, but you really cannot depend in most cases on just subscription revenue alone.”
In the places that have had success, she added, new owners have both diversified revenue and invested in those papers long-term.
Jim Iovino didn’t know family-owned, profitable local newsrooms even still existed until he started working with NewStart. Iovino, previously the deputy managing editor for the Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania) Post-Gazette, has since found a class of small family-owned weeklies around the country facing a similar set of circumstances.
Younger family members have moved away or aren’t interested in ownership. Long-time owners can’t find anyone to sell to. They don’t want to sell to a chain. They don’t want to quit and close.
“So they’re looking for people to come into their towns, become part of the community, and own and run the paper,” said Iovino,
Read more here: https://www.poynter.org/business-work/2019/this-fellowship-wants-to-find-the-next-generation-of-local-newspaper-owners/