FOUNTAIN, SECURITY-WIDEFIELD — In 1958, Carl H. Wiese and his business partner bought a small newspaper in the Fountain area for $1000. For 65 years, the El Paso County Advertiser & News served the Security-Widefield and Fountain area with hyperlocal news. Now, they've had to close their doors for good.
“I never ever dreamed that our paper would die… that was rough," said Patty St. Louis, former executive editor of The Advertiser.
Patty St. Louis and Karen Aubuchon-Johnson are the stepdaughters of Wiese and have been working with the newspaper since 1981. St. Louis says their stepfather and his business partner worked to invigorate the newspaper because of what it meant to people.
“And they just felt like there was a need, a growing need in the community, for news," said St. Louis. “We're kind of the communities identity because we reflect back what's happening here. What the churches are doing, what the businesses are doing, what the nonprofits are doing, what government is doing, what the citizens are doing".
According to The Advertiser, the small but sustainable newspaper was doing very well heading into 2020. Then, the pandemic was the start of the end.
“We had already implemented some changes to kind of modernize it and attract new readers, but COVID shut everything down suddenly. It affected our advertising greatly, and it continued to have this trickle-down effect," says executive editor Karin Hill.
That trickle-down effect meant that once advertisers pulled their spending, revenue was deeply impacted. But they hold strong that readership was never in doubt.
“Our readers are awesome and super loyal, and they're very sad that we're leaving, and we're heartbroken… but there just isn't the money to keep going," continued Hill.
The Advertiser worked for months to find other options to stay operating: looking for a wealthy buyer, raising the price of their subscriptions, or finding a way to stay online with their Facebook page.
At the end of their last year, the price for a delivery subscription was $3 a month. That readership, they say, desperately
needs the information.
“People were reading the paper more when COVID hit. It was terrifying for seniors who we were their main source of news," said Aubuchon-Johnson. "We have senior readers who don't even go online, they just really depend on us keeping them informed”.
The newspaper is currently working on refunding customers who paid for a yearly subscription for 2023. They tell me that they are
still open to a buyer interested in their online following.
The final issue of the paper was published on December 28th. If you'd like to read the goodbye editorial from Patty St. Louis, you can find it on their website.
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