Nibsy the Newsboy’s Trip Through Newspaperland

Two longtime Warren County residents and former executives of The Indianola Record-Herald and Indianola Tribune are buying the newspaper from Gannett Co. Inc. and plan to continue publishing a weekly print edition.

The buyers are Amy Duncan, a former editor and publisher, and her husband, Mark Davitt, a former managing editor.

The couple, who live in Indianola, are the founders and current publishers of the Indianola Independent Advocate online news site.

“Between the two of us, we worked at the Record-Herald for close to 50 years,” Duncan said. “Mark and I love providing readers with great coverage of Warren County online. We’re excited to give them the option of getting that news in print as well.”

The Des Moines Register carries the story.

Gannett continues to divest itself of weeklies gained in buying chains.

But the weekly newspaper trade is not in revival status.

Penny Abernathy, the author of The State of Local News – The 2022 Report from Northwestern University’s Medill School writes:

Even though the pandemic was not the catastrophic “extinction-level event” some feared, the country lost more than 360 newspapers between the waning pre-pandemic months of late 2019 and the end of May 2022. All but 24 of those papers were weeklies, serving communities ranging in size from a few hundred people to tens of thousands. Most communities that lose a newspaper do not get a digital or print replacement. The country has 6,377 surviving papers: 1,230 dailies and 5,147 weeklies.

Of daily newspapers she adds:

The daily newspaper — printed and delivered seven days a week — has already disappeared in many markets. Forty of the largest 100 papers in the country now deliver a print edition six or fewer times a week; 11 publish a print edition only one or two or times a week and e-editions on the other days.

And News Deserts are expanding:

More than a fifth of the nation’s citizens live in news deserts—with very limited access to local news—or in communities at risk of becoming news deserts. Seventy million people live in the 210 counties without a newspaper, or in the 1,560 counties with only one paper—usually a weekly—covering multiple communities spread over a vast area.

The Neiman Lab summarizes The Medill School of Journalism 2022 Report.

The circulation of print newspapers are nearing pathetic levels.

The Top Ten now includes one with circulation of less than 100,000.


One newspaper bucking the trend is The Villages Daily Sun.

Let’s start with the good news on the list! (It won’t take long.) The Villages Daily Sun made the Top 25 for the first time, coming in at No. 23. The Villages is “Florida’s Friendliest Active Adult 55+ Retirement Community,” [emphasis added] a place filled with the target audience for print newspapers.

To put it another way: The Villages Daily Sun is located in a metro area of 129,752 people. But it sells more print copies on an average weekday than the:

— Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (metro population: 2,053,232),
— Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (2,657,149),
— Charlotte Observer (2,822,352),
— The (Baltimore) Sun (2,844,510),
— St. Louis Post-Dispatch (2,909,003),
— The (Portland) Oregonian (3,280,736), or
— The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer (3,633,962).

Or take an even bigger market: Atlanta, the 10th largest metro area in America, with a metro population of 6,930,423. On an average weekday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution sells 49,243 print newspapers. The Villages Daily Sun sells 49,183.

More than a third of the community’s residents buy the local newspaper!


By 2026 newspaper’s digital ad revenue will surpass print ad revenue. But…


In other newspaper news…

David Shipley is new Washington Post Editorial Page Editor.

In his new position with the media outlet, he will head The Post’s Opinions staff, which includes the Editorial Board.

The roster of columnists and contributors, team of op-ed editors, the group of visual and multi-media storytellers, and the growing digital operations and multi-platform editing teams will now be reporting to Shipley.