Oxbow-Carnduff paper sold, Lumsden paper closing its doors

Star News Publishing will be out of the newspaper business in Saskatchewan before Christmas.

Star News Publishing, which bought 13 papers in 2016, will own none in Sask. by Christmas

The Waterfront Press is set to publish its last edition on Dec. 22. Another newspaper owned by Star News Publishing, the Oxbow-Carnduff Herald-Gazette, has found a buyer. (Submitted by Robyn Tocker)

Star News Publishing will be out of the newspaper business in Saskatchewan before Christmas, but one of its newspapers has a new owner.

Owner Roger Holmes said he has struck a deal to sell the Oxbow-Carnduff Herald-Gazette, one of the Star News-owned papers in Saskatchewan Holmes previously said he planned to either sell or shut down.

Star News also owned the Moose Jaw Times-Herald, which printed its final edition earlier this month.

Holmes would not say who is purchasing the Oxbow-Carnduff publication, but said those details will be in the southeastern Saskatchewan paper's next issue.

It's welcome news to Herald-Gazette columnist Krystyn Gillies, who was lobbying for a purchase to keep the paper going.

"I'm thrilled to hear and wish the the new owner the best of luck," Gillies told CBC.

The paper serves about a dozen communities in southeast Saskatchewan, including Estevan.
Star News Publishing owner Roger Holmes would not say who is purchasing the Oxbow-Carnduff publication, but said those details will be in the southeastern Saskatchewan paper's next issue. (Facebook/Oxbow-Carnduff Herald-Gazette)

Holmes also has a deal to sell another Star News paper.

It was announced on Friday night that employees of the Prince Albert Daily Herald will be buying that entity.

The two sales come after Holmes told CBC last week that he planned to exit the Saskatchewan market.

On Saturday, he said he was happy with the result.

"Those communities deserve a newspaper and they need a newspaper to help them thrive and tell each other their stories," Holmes said. "This is a good news story. It's better than closing newspapers."

Last one to go

The last paper Holmes owns in the province, the Waterfront Regional Star, is set to close its doors on Dec. 29, with its final edition out Dec. 22.

The paper was created by the merger of the Waterfront Press in Lumsden and the Star Newspaper in Emerald Park.

The Waterfront Press had served Lumsden, Craven and Southey for around 40 years. The Star provided community news to Emerald Park, White City, Balgonie and Pilot Butte for five years.

Holmes said he has not found a buyer for the community paper.

It's difficult because I know these people really like having a paper in their area.- Robyn  Tocker, Waterfront Press regional editor 

Star regional editor in White City, Robyn Tocker, said she was given a letter of termination last Monday.

"We've just tried to keep the communities as informed as possible and it's just really sad that now these communities aren't going to have that opportunity, and they're going to be lacking the ability to really understand what's going on in their area and to be really informed citizens," Tocker said.

"It's difficult because I know these people really like having a paper in their area because its local."

The two papers merged on Sept. 29 and Tocker switched from working in an office in Emerald Park to working from home. It was the first sign of things to come.

Tocker and her Lumsden counterpart, Sarah MacMillan, found out the Moose Jaw Times-Herald was closing through a CBC article. Tocker said it was the hub of their company and provided ad designs and page layouts for their paper.

"To hear that they were closing also made us concerned for our paper," she said.

The Moose Jaw Times-Herald, which was owned by Star News Publishing, printed its last paper on Dec. 6. (CBC News)

Tocker and MacMillan had been told their last day before Christmas break would be Dec. 22, but they had fears the paper wouldn't print into 2018.

"When this was confirmed on Monday it was really upsetting because we were doing relatively well," Tocker said.

"It just kind of hits you all at once that Christmas wasn't going to be probably nearly as exciting because of this dark cloud hanging over you."

Star News Publishing bought 13 papers in Saskatchewan from Transcontinental Inc. in May of 2016.

The company merged a number of the papers following the transaction.

It has since sold the Grenfell Sun, the Broadview Express and the Southwest Booster. It recently closed the South Central Star, which published its last issue Nov. 16.

After its departure from the Saskatchewan market, Star News will still own two newspapers in Alberta.