The Southwest Journal, which covers 20 neighborhoods in southwest Minneapolis, will publish its final paper at the end of the year.
Owners Janis Hall and Terry Gahan shared the news Wednesday, noting the final paper will be Dec. 24, 2020, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as one of the reasons for the closer.
"It is with heavy hearts that we announce that, like many other community businesses, Southwest Journal has been impacted by the Covid pandemic. Our advertising sales are down by over 30% this year and this latest decline follows a years-long loss in newspaper revenue," the announcement said.
Hall and Gahan started the paper in their Linden Hills kitchen in 1990, growing the production to a 32,000-circulation weekly paper that was always free and home-delivered.
They've been trying to sell the paper, as well as their two magazines – Minnesota Parent and Minnesota Good Age – for more than a year. There was hope they found a buyer, with a deal set to close in March, but it was called off due to the pandemic.
"We are extremely grateful to the dedicated readers who answered our call for donations and sent money over the past six months. Your letters lifted our spirits more than we can tell you. We also received a Paycheck Protection Program loan that got us through several months of expenses, but is running out," the announcement said.
As a result, the paper will not employ full-time reporters as of Nov. 1 – the first time in the paper's history that they'll only use freelancers to cover the news in the community. The paper will continue to employ editor Zac Farber, production artist Val Moe and distribution manager Maro Johnson until the end.
Hall and Gahan would still like to sell the paper to someone "who loves print as we do," and asks that anyone who is seriously interested in buying it to contact their attorney, Mark Anfinson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Southwest Journal is the latest print publication in Minnesota to announce it will close or trim its number of publications due to the pandemic.
The Growler Magaziner in July said its last print issue would be in August. 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 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.