Publisher moving towards the sun

Bruce Penton is not a fan of what he calls ÔÇÿabsentee ownership.ÔÇÖ

ThatÔÇÖs partially the reason behind his move to sell his two community newspapers, the Moosomin (SK) World-Spectator and the Esterhazy Miner-Journal, and start a new newspaper in Brandon, Manitoba.

Penton plans to pack up and move 135 kilometres east from Moosomin, Saskatchewan to Brandon and plant his flag in the growing community. The Wheat City Journal, a once-per-week community newspaper that will focus on local people, places and things, will hit Brandon homes starting April 25.

ÔÇ£I really think a community newspaper needs a personal touch to it,ÔÇØ said Penton. ÔÇ£I think a community newspaper needs the proprietor to be on the scene and around attending meetings, going to the dance recitals and being seen around town. There is a negative connotation to having a community newspaper owned by someone who doesnÔÇÖt live in that town anymore.ÔÇØ

Penton is a Brandon native and started his 34-year career at the Brandon Sun, the local daily. He has also worked at dailies in Edmonton and New Westminster, British Columbia and for the past 21 years has been at Moosomin, the first 10 as editor and the last 11 as publisher of the award-winning World-Spectator. He will be moving back to Brandon April 1.

ÔÇ£I have always believed there is room in Brandon for a good community newspaper,ÔÇØ said Penton. ÔÇ£The daily can handle local, regional, national and international news, but our mandate will be strictly local news. We plan to produce an informative and entertaining newspaper that people in Brandon will look forward to reading each week.ÔÇØ

The tabloid community newspaper will be a total market circulation product, meaning every household in Brandon and Shilo (about 17,500) will receive it each Thursday. Penton has a variety of silent partners in the business, but he said he will be the ÔÇÿfaceÔÇÖ of the paper.

ÔÇ£For obvious reasons, a total market circulation newspaper benefits the advertisers, because their advertisement is being made available to every consumer in the city,ÔÇØ said Penton. ÔÇ£Unlike ÔÇÿshopper-style’ products that often end up in the trash heap, the Wheat City Journal will have a lengthy shelf live. Studies by the Print Measurement Bureau have shown that most community newspapers stay on a person┬╣s coffee table for seven days until the next issue arrives.ÔÇØ

Penton is a former Canadian Community Newspapers Association board member. The Wheat City Journal office will be located in the Town Centre in Brandon. The newspaper will employ nine full-time people and some part-timer people. Penton and his wife Barbara have published the World-Spectator since 1991 and the Miner-Journal since 1997. Both publications are in the process of being sold; the World-Spectator to Kevin Weedmark, the newspaper┬╣s editor for the past 14 years; and the Miner-Journal to Brenda Matchett, general manager of the Esterhazy newspaper for the past four years.

ÔÇ£The World-Spectator will carry on in the same vein as it has for the past 20 years,ÔÇØ said Penton. ÔÇ£Selling the papers to someone you donÔÇÖt even know can be risky. I am very comfortable with the situation here.ÔÇØ