When the Worthington Daily Globe announced it was cutting pack its print schedule, longtime reader Rosemary LeTendre lost a treasured part of her morning routine.
“I was very, very disappointed,” she said. “To the point of being heartbroken, I almost shed a tear.”
LeTendre, a 78-year-old resident of nearby Slayton, Minn., has been reading the Worthington paper for more than 40 years. But she said she’s seen the paper has declined noticeably.
The Daily Globe said last month that declining revenue from print advertisements and rising newsprint costs are two big factors driving the change from printing six days a week down to two.
A struggling farm economy has also hurt business. Neither the newspaper nor its owner Fargo-based Forum Communications would comment for this report.
In recent months, a typical edition of the Daily Globe was about 10 pages long. That’s a far cry from the paper’s glory days 30 to 40 years ago. Some of the people who worked at the newspaper in the heyday of the 1970s and ’80s are legendary.
There was Jim Brandenburg, the renowned nature photographer who shot for National Geographic.
And Annie Griffiths, who went from the Globe and became one of the first women photographers for National Geographic.
The late nature writer Paul Gruchow, who’s often compared to Henry David Thoreau, was managing editor and co-owner of the Globe from the mid-1970s to the mid-’80s.
“Oh man, it was a special place,” said Owen Van Essen, who was employed at the newspaper for nearly a decade at the time, eventually becoming a co-owner.
The Daily Globe routinely attracted top graduates of college journalism programs like the University of Minnesota to come to the farmland surrounding Worthington to start their careers, Van Essen said.
It was the newspaper’s owners that attracted the talent.
“Most of all it was the Vance family, who just wanted to put out the very best newspaper. Wanted to do that ahead of profits,” Van Essen said. “It was always understood that we would do whatever it took to do the story right.”
That philosophy led to numerous awards for the paper and recognition that it was one of the best small city dailies in the state.
Mike Finley, a news editor at the paper in the late 1970s, said the paper’s culture prized accuracy.
“In a small city like Worthington, you can’t make a mistake like misspell somebody’s name,” Finely said. “I think it taught us great habits of caring about getting it right.”
The paper also made a revolutionary decision when it was among the first in the nation to “go computer,” Finley recalled in an essay about Paul Gruchow’s tenure.
The Vances sold the Globe in the mid -1980s to Midwest Newspapers. After two more sales, the paper was part of the Forum Communications portfolio.
The paper’s pull-back to printing twice a week reflects the turmoil engulfing the nation’s newspapers. The growth of online news and advertising has siphoned away readers and revenue for a long time.
After the Vances sold the Globe, Van Essen went on to join a company that helps broker the sale of newspapers. He said it’s disappointing the Globe will reduce its print schedule. But he said declining sales will likely force other similar newspapers to consider cut backs as well.
“I think there’ll be an accelerated trend to do exactly to what’s going on in Worthington,” Van Essen said. “I think you’ll see a lot of two-times, perhaps three-times-a-week newspapers.”
Van Essen said it’s a difficult reality for newspapers to face, but they are no longer consumers’ main source for news — or advertisers’ main source for an audience.