Top Ten #7: Changes at
Sanpete County newspaper
In rural areas, weekly newspapers are often a big part of community life. So changes in ownership or location of publication have an impact.
On April 16, after 16 years and 831 issues, Mark and Jodi Henline, who founded the Gunnison Valley Gazette, turned the paper over to Sanpete News Co., the company that publishes the Sanpete Messenger. The Henlines said it was time for them to move on to other things.
“I’m sad,” Jodi Henline said. “It’s been fun to be part of this community. They’ve welcomed us; they’ve supported us.”
In a thank-you message on the front page of the final issue, Mark Henline wrote, “Let me say what an honor it’s been to have been part of your lives over the years. It’s been fun to cover the school activities: plays, assemblies, sports, concerts and graduations. It’s been amazing to see how our valley has changed over the years.”
Suzanne Dean, owner of Sanpete Messenger, said the Gazette would continue to focus on the Gunnison Valley. She said the nameplate wouldn’t change, and “Valley Views,” a page of local photos, would still appear on every issue.
For Dean, taking over the Gazette created a bit of déjà vu. In 2004, Dean launched a separate edition of the Messenger called the Gunnison Valley Edition covering the Gunnison Valley along with other news from Sanpete County.
It didn’t work, especially after the Henlines launched their newspaper, she says, so a few years later, she dropped the edition.
Then in November, Ogden Newspapers, a national chain based in West Virginia, which owns the Ogden Standard Examiner, the Daily Herald of Provo and Mt. Pleasant Pyramid, among other Utah newspapers, announced it was closing its Mt. Pleasant office and would publish the Pyramid out of the Daily Herald office in Provo.
”It is really sad to watch any established business shut its doors,” said Ken Hansen, managing editor, who was laid off. “….As a journalist it’s even harder to watch a 130-year-old newspaper shutter local operation. Yes, the paper will still be published in a more limited capacity, but residents no longer have the ability to walk in and talk to someone to get answers.”
“These big chains are constantly trying to do journalism on the cheap,” Dean said, “and trying to publish a newspaper for Sanpete County out of Provo is just another manifestation of that approach.”
The Pyramid has stopped selling copies at stores and is now mailed to every household. It has a couple of page of news, nearly all drawn from public relations releases, plus the advertising that formerly appeared in the Pyramid Shopper.