Forgive us if we get a little personal about this Thanksgiving. Since two larger Black Hills weekly newspapers closed their doors after publishing their final editions Wednesday, Nov. 8, we are extremely thankful and grateful just for being here and continuing to operate.
Belle Fourche is a community of about 5,600 people and Sturgis has about 6,600 residents. Both had weekly newspapers with slightly more than 1,000 circulation. Both newspapers were owned by the Rapid City Journal which parent company is Lee Enterprises headquartered in Davenport, Iowa.
We find it hard to believe that each of these fairly large communities could not support a weekly community newspaper. Obviously, their owners believed they could not and decided to shut them down. It is a sad occasion when a town loses its newspaper and doubly sad when two nearby towns lose theirs on the same day.
We predict it won’t be long before Sturgis and Belle Fourche have a newspaper once again. Maybe what they just needed was a wakeup call. Both towns seem to have the business base to support a good, locally-owned newspaper. Custer is a community of some 2,000 souls, and Hill City has fewer than 1,000 residents. Not all are year- round residents.
The Chronicle has about 1,600 readers and the Prevailer has about 525. You have to ask yourself, why are we still here? The Custer area and Hill City area have supported our newspapers for the past 18 years of our stewardship. The only reason we are here is because of you, dear reader and advertiser! We would not be here without your continued support.
We have done our best over the years to hire good people to help us produce quality and meaningful weekly community print products. We strive to have beneficial promotional campaigns in our products, beneficial to our advertisers and to us. This is a two-way street we are on. We need to assist our businesses in their common desire to be successful, so we, in turn, can be successful.
We are reminded of a story told to us several years ago by Custer resident Steve Baldwin whose father owned and operated Butch’s Standard in Custer for many years. At that time, the Chronicle had its own press and was not known for its high quality of print reproduction. In fact, some of the photos were so dark they were almost solid black. Steve asked his dad why he continued to advertise in a newspaper that looked so bad. His dad responded that he believed the town needed a newspaper and thought it was important to support it.
This is a story we have not forgotten. What a community supporter Butch must have been! We wonder how many of our citizens and business owners feel about this today in such a dynamic, changing business environment due to the advent of the internet and social media.
We believe that when a town loses its newspaper, it is not a community any more. It is just a bunch of people living together. A newspaper is the glue that holds a town together and is something we take quite seriously in Custer and Hill City. We want to be the number one information and advertising source in all of our communities. We work hard to make sure this happens every week.
We have a suggestion. If you value the fact that Custer and Hill City still have newspapers, how about supporting the people who support us, and not only this holiday shopping season, but every day of the year. Shop locally!
We all have a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving holiday. We are happy to be here and we hope you all are happy we are still here, since 1880 in Custer and 1970 in Hill City. We are thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with two of our three sons and their families. We hope you have the same opportunity to spend the holiday with your family members.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of our great supporters! We wouldn’t be here without you!