ANNISTON, Ala. (WIAT) — Next month, a weekly newspaper in east Alabama will be shut down.
On Wednesday, Anniston Star Managing Editor Timothy Cash announced that the News Journal would print its last issue on Wednesday, Oct. 25. The News Journal was the combination of three other weekly newspapers– the Piedmont Journal, the Cleburne News and the Jacksonville News.
All three weekly newspapers had had a century-long presence in the area, with the Cleburne Journal and Piedmont Journal’s founding going back to 1906 and 1907 respectively. The Jacksonville News was first published in 1936. In 2018, owner Consolidated Publishing Company made the decision to combine all three weeklies into one newspaper.
“The decision to discontinue the News Journal was not an easy one,” Cash wrote. “We know that small newspapers are deeply rooted in their communities, with each supporting the other across the decades. We know readers hate to lose that voice. But the ever-changing newspaper industry — which includes many readers’ preference for getting their news online — along with increased printing and distribution costs made Consolidated Publishing rethink its product lineup.”
In his announcement, Cash maintained that “events of unique interest to Jacksonville, Piedmont and Cleburne County readers” would still be available in The Star.
The shuttering of the News Journal reflects a continuing decline in print journalism and its questionable sustainability, especially in small towns. According to a study by Northwestern University, nearly 400 newspapers across the country have closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a story published in The New York Times in June 2022, approximately 2,500 newspapers have closed in the U.S. since 2005.