In a year where Minnesota's newspaper landscape has seen a lot of change, more is on the horizon after three more community papers have new owners.
The Republican Eagle, which covers Red Wing, and Hudson Star-Observer, which covers Hudson, Wisconsin, newspapers have been sold to O'Rourke Media Group.
Forum Communications Company, which owns several newspapers in the state, sold RiverTown Multimedia, which publishes the two papers, according to a story on the papers' website.
And for the time being, O'Rourke Media Group says readers of the two papers won't see any immediate changes to the print or digital sides after the transition takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.
O'Rourke Media Group began in 2018 and has since acquired community papers in Minnesota (the Cannon Falls Beacon), Wisconsin, Vermont and Arizona, the website says.
129-year-old paper gets new owner
Earlier this month, the Cook County News-Herald, which has served the Grand Marais community for 129 years, was sold to CherryRoad Technologies, according to a post on the papers' website. The purchase was finalized on Nov. 24.
It's unclear what the future holds for the paper, which according to WTIP has changed ownership several times in its history, most recently in 2008 when it was combined with the Cook County Star.
Several publications across the state have either been sold or have announced their closing or trimming their number of publications amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In June, two Iron Range newspapers merged into one, and in May the Duluth News Tribune trimmed its publishing days. The Hastings Star Gazette and the Bulletin of Woodbury and Cottage Grove announced they would shut down in April. Meanwhile, the Lakeshore Weekly News and the Eden Prairie News ceased publication on April 30.
Nationwide, the pandemic has closed more than 60 papers across the country, Poynter reports, noting many of them are the only news source for their respective communities.
But this isn't a new trend thanks to declining ad revenue in the past few decades – the pandemic is just increasing the pace of the closures, Poynter notes. About 1,800 newspapers in the United States have closed since 2004, according to Penny Abernathy's research on news deserts.