Postmedia to close Alberta community newspapers in Hinton, Edson and Lacombe

Residents in Hinton, Edson and Lacombe learned Tuesday that long-standing weekly newspapers in their communities will soon be shut down.

Company says papers will shut down because they are losing money

The Lacombe Globe will print its final edition on Jan. 16. (Google )

Residents in Hinton, Edson and Lacombe learned Tuesday that long-standing weekly newspapers in their communities will soon be shut down.

The Lacombe Globe served its community for 119 years, starting in 1901.

In Hinton, the Parklander was started in 1955, while the Edson Leader has been in business for 109 years.

The final editions of the Leader and the Parklander will come out on Jan. 13, and the Globe will print its last copy on Jan. 16, Phyllise Gelfand, vice-president of communications for Postmedia, said Tuesday in an emailed statement.

"It is well known that the media industry is undergoing significant disruption and legacy revenues are declining at a precipitous rate," Gelfand said. "We must continuously assess what we need to do to transform and support our business objectives."

'It's a huge shock'

Edson Mayor Kevin Zahara has lived in the town west of Edmonton home for nearly 20 years.

"It's a huge shock and a huge blow to the community," he said. "We have social media nowadays, and digital media platforms are playing a larger role. But there's still a lot of people that like that weekly newspaper, and they've been an institution for our community."

In her statement, Gelfand called the decisions tough but necessary, and said the newspapers were losing money and were not sustainable.

In Hinton, residents will still have one weekly newspaper, the Hinton Voice, which was started by former Parklander employees who were let go more than 10 years ago. 

The paper said it has 1,700 to 2,000 readers each week. 

Tyler Waugh, who runs the weekly with his partner, Sarah Burns, said the newspaper will continue to serve the community. 

"It's a little bittersweet," said Waugh, who employs three full-time staff members. "We've continued to invest in journalism. We take that responsibility pretty seriously. And I think that's what has over the years ultimately differentiated us from the the corporate model, who has slowly pulled away from the community and some of those responsibilities that are at the heart of what we do." 

In Lacombe, the Globe's closure brings to an end 119 years worth of history.

Edmonton Sun sports columnist Terry Jones, who was born in Lacombe, credits the newspaper with giving him his first crack at writing.

Decades ago, he won an essay writing contest, with a $10 first prize. His winning essay was printed on the front page.

"I mean, I just treasured that beginning, because you've got to have a place to be bad," said Jones, who went on to write about football and other sports for the Globe, and had his own sports column by the time he was in Grade 9. 

He said he routinely returns to Lacombe to visit his 93-year-old mother. Whenever he's back, he said, he makes a habit of picking up the local paper.

"The Globe is older than the province," said Jones.

"If it hadn't been for that paper, and those circumstances," he asked, "am I doing what I've done all these years?"