Regional Newspapers Merge in COVID-19 Economy

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa
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CENTERVILLE, Iowa — The Centerville Iowegian announced on Wednesday that it would be ceasing local publication, and merging operations with the Ottumwa Courier. Similar announcements were made in Marion County newspapers. The Pella Chronicle, and the Knoxville Journal Express will be merging with the Oskaloosa Herald.

“That mission has faced stiff economic headwinds in recent years,” wrote Publisher Becky Maxwell in the three newspapers. “Advertising revenue has steadily declined while costs have increased.”

It’s no secret newspapers have been in an economic struggle for some time.

“Now the coronavirus crisis has dealt a gut punch, it has impacted our operation like no other issue,” wrote Maxwell. “Advertising, the lifeblood of our revenue, has nearly dried up as local businesses, like us, struggle during this unusually difficult time. Yet our newsprint, production operations and delivery costs continue to rise.”

With communities losing their paper, plans are to continue to provide news and sports coverage from Ottumwa and Oskaloosa. Those papers will offer trial subscriptions to try the papers from Oskaloosa, and Ottumwa. In Centerville historic front pages of the Iowegian’s coverage of news of big fires, and the time President Roosevelt was shot at. The local paper will be missed at City Hall.

“We have two components that we have, our basic logistical stuff, public notices, and just information to put out in the coverage of city Council meetings,” said Jason Fraser, City Administrator for the City of Centerville. “But more importantly when there’s a big idea that the government we need to make a big change that may be controversial or not, the papers really good medium for expressing that.”

Other businesses on the square were just learning of the newspaper changes in Centerville on Thursday.

“We have shown time and again as a community that we are resilient,” said Fraser. “I know a decent amount of the staff at the Iowegian is moving over to the Ottumwa Courier, I think there’s a plan to have Centerville coverage picked up by Ottumwa.”

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