Community newspapers have served rural areas for hundreds of years, providing news and useful information to small-town residents.
Local editors and reporters attend meetings, sporting events, and other community gatherings and provide an ongoing account of what’s happening in their town. Most papers are mainly supported by advertising dollars, but with economic struggles in many rural communities and new ways to advertise through the Internet and social media, community papers are seeing declines in revenue.
Such is the case in Skagway, Alaska with The Skagway News. The semimonthly has undergone a few recent ownership changes as it has fought to gain new footing in a changing economic climate. Most recently, owner Larry Persily, who managed the paper remotely from Anchorage, put it up for sale for $0 in hopes he could find the right buyer to move to the town and take it over.
Several national media outlets picked up the story, and Persily was overwhelmed with hundreds of applicants.
In this episode of the Rural Business Show, Persily discusses why he chose to give his paper away, the state of rural journalism, the need for good reporting in rural areas, and what it takes to make small-town papers work today.
Since our conversation, he selected new owners, and they are looking forward to the challenging of strengthening the publication.