October 8, 2010

The demise of the Lawrence County Journal

It’s a bit of irony that the owner of the Lawrence County Journal would announce the immediate closure of the paper smack dab in the middle of National Newspaper Week.

Publisher Brad Slater of the Rapid City Journal, which owns the Lawrence County Journal, conceded Wednesday (10/6/10) that the move was “an extremely difficult choice to make."  As part of the move, offices in Spearfish, Newell, and Deadwood will be closed.  

The handwriting had been on the wall for quite some time.

We subscribed to the Lawrence County Journal a few years ago, but found the twice-a-week publication  a bit lacking in coverage of local and area issues.    Not surprisingly, occasional significant stories published by the Lawrence County Journal would frequently pop up in the Rapid City Journal – sometimes even with a photo.  The local Lawrence County Journal story would be more complete, and would frequently  include an abundance of photographs.  Often, it seemed to include more photos than real news.

In a climate where the internet has gone toe-to-toe with newspapers for advertising dollars, we’ve seen both circulation and ad revenues drop sharply for newspapers all across the country.

We cancelled our subscription some months ago, hoping there’d be enough area news splashing over into the Rapid City Journal that we wouldn’t miss the Lawrence County newspaper.

A short time later, the Lawrence County Journal decided to abandon its mid-week edition and shift to a Saturday edition only.

That was not a surprising move either. Nonetheless, we had to chuckle when a telemarketer tried to lure us back to the fold, telling me that she knew we were “busy” and that she knew that it can sometimes be difficult to find the time to read the paper.  “So we’ve consolidated our newspaper into a weekly,” she said, to make it more “convenient for readers to get their news in a single paper rather than two.”  I had to chuckle.

In their October 6th edition reporting the demise of the weekly Lawrence county paper, the Rapid City Journal noted that “Spearfish, Deadwood and other Lawrence County news will continue to appear in the Rapid City Journal.”

I turned the page to see a lot of ink telling about political cracker barrel forums conducted the night before in Rapid City.  There was nary a hint of the Lawrence County forum held the same evening at Black Hills State University.  So much for northern hills news coverage in the Black Hills.

Give me the phone number for the Black Hills Pioneer

It, too, is overpriced – but it’s now the only newspaper left providing any real coverage of Lawrence County.

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