After 15 years and more than 750 weekly editions covering a small town’s news and daily life, the Gunnison Valley Gazette printed its final edition Tuesday — felled by newspaper economics and the coronavirus.
“With printing costs climbing substantially last summer, it became increasingly difficult to make things work,” Mark Henline, who owned the paper with his wife, Jodi, wrote in the final issue. “Then when the coronavirus hit, it was the final straw and we decided to sell the newspaper.”
The paper — based in Gunnison, in Sanpete County, in southwest Utah — has been sold to the nearby Sanpete Messenger, Henline wrote. Decisions about the Gazette’s future will be announced in the next week or two, he wrote.
The newspaper industry has suffered in many places because of the coronavirus pandemic, as papers have lost advertising revenue from businesses that were forced to close. According to a list maintained by the nonprofit Poynter Institute, in the last month at least 68 daily, weekly and alternative weekly papers around the country have laid off or furloughed employees, cut back printing days, or shut down altogether.
The Henlines started the Gunnison Valley Gazette with no journalism background, their daughter Ashlyn Harvey wrote in a Facebook post Monday, but with a goal “to focus on good in the community.”
From its first issue on April 7, 2005, Henline wrote, the paper has covered school assemblies, sports events, concerts and graduations — as well as wedding announcements, birthdays, anniversaries, Eagle Scout promotions, military deployments and missionary departures and returns. Over its run, he wrote, the paper has published more than 800 obituaries.
One of the paper’s highlights was its back page, which ran “Valley Views” — “no stories, just photos of people out and about in the community, living small town life,” Harvey wrote. “Everyone who knows the Gazette turns to the back page first.”
Henline wrote that “Valley Views” will be what he will miss most about the Gazette. “I loved seeing the smiling faces on the back page each week,” Henline wrote in his final column. “There were over 6,000 photos that appeared in ‘Valley Views.’ I hope your smile was one of them.”