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Employees purchase a local Saskatchewan paper to keep it from closing


PRINCE ALBERT, Sask. — A group of employees at a Saskatchewan daily newspaper has reached a deal to purchase the outlet and run it as an independent publication, just over a week after a sister daily in the province closed.

Star News Publishing says it has sold the Prince Albert Daily Herald to a group of employees led by publisher Donna Pfeil.

"It's an employee buyout. We're all invested in keeping the paper going. We all love our jobs and are really passionate about them," Pfeil said in an interview on Saturday. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Star News says the transaction will close "in the very near term."

Star News Publishing President Roger Holmes said that the sale is good for both the city of Prince Albert and the media industry.

Employees say they're pleased to return the paper to its roots as an independent, locally owned and operated news outlet.

"We know there's a lot of work in front of us. We think we can pull it off though," said Peter Lozinski, the paper's managing editor.

Earlier this month, the Moose Jaw Times-Herald, which was also owned by Star News Publishing, ceased operations after being in business since the 1800s.

Holmes said at the time that the paper couldn't withstand all the challenges facing small-town newspapers, including declining readership and increased costs.

Star acquired both the Moose Jaw and Prince Albert papers from Montreal-based Transcontinental in 2016 as part of a deal that included close to a dozen other papers, commercial printing equipment and a book business.

Pfeil said the end of the Moose Jaw paper was a sad and difficult day for staff in Prince Albert, but it prompted them to seek a solution for their own paper.

"It just didn't seem right," said Pfeil. "We didn't want to see that happening in (Prince Albert) because it's a community-oriented city and it needs its paper."

Rumours swirled in Prince Albert for weeks that their paper would suffer the same fate as Moose Jaw's. On Nov. 29, the paper posted a notice on its website that the rumours were false.

The Prince Albert Daily Herald has been publishing since 1894. There are now ten people who work in the paper's office.

Stories posted to its website in the past week range from the city council agreeing to cover $350,000 in cost overruns on infrastructure projects to the local council of women president discussing the anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique killings in Montreal in 1989.

Pfeil, who entered the business as a youngster delivering the Prince Albert Daily Herald, said everyone who works there is committed to keeping the paper going. She said the plan is to continue printing the paper as a daily.

"If we're not scared and terrified going into it, there's something wrong. There's no overconfidence, that's for sure, but we know we can do it," Pheil said.

"We're excited because we get to say where this paper's going and be there for the community and be a part of it."

 

 

The Canadian Press

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