Star News Publishing Inc. owner Roger Holmes has announced the Grenfell Sun and the Broadview Express newspapers have been sold to Grasslands News Group effective Sept 1.
Holmes said the publications are returning to local ownership and a big piece of their history with the long time newspaper publishing Ashfield family.
“We recently acquired these newspapers from a large Quebec based company as part of a transaction that included the Daily Moose Jaw Times Herald, The Prince Alberta Daily Herald, The Swift Current Southwest Booster and 8 other community newspapers in southern Saskatchewan” said Holmes. “Grenfell and Broadview readers will be better served by more local ownership than we can provide” he concluded.
Grasslands News Group is based in Melville, Sask., and owns the Melville Advance, Fort Qu’Appelle Times and Whitewood Herald. Grasslands is owned by Chris Ashfield of Whitewood, George Brown of Melville, and Greg and Ryan Nesbitt from Shoal Lake, Man.
“We are very excited to bring these communities under our banner and to be able to build and improve the newspaper into a publication that readers and advertisers can be proud of,” said group publisher Chris Ashfield. “We are looking forward to improving the newspaper and providing better coverage of the communities we serve.”
A new look will not be the only change that Grasslands News Group will make to the two newspapers, as a major change in operation will also take place.
“Unfortunately, in today’s market it is not viable for two small market newspapers to be so close together. So we will merge the Sun and the Express and publish one newspaper to serve both communities,” said Ashfield.
Current subscribers to the Grenfell Sun will continue to receive their newspaper while subscribers to the Broadview Express will have the option of transferring their subscription to either the new Grenfell Sun Express or the Whitewood Herald.
With the merger of the two newspapers, the publication date will also move to Saturday from Wednesday. This will allow for better coverage of community events and help ensure news is delivered timely and efficiently.
“Right now the paper goes to the press on Friday night and isn’t delivered until Wednesday. We will continue to send the paper to the press on Friday but it will be available for readers as early as Saturday morning, beginning with the Sept. 3 issue,” said Ashfield.
The final issue of the two separate publications will be the Wednesday, Aug. 24 edition. The first edition of the new Sun Express will be available on Saturday, Sept. 3.
A new newspaper website, Facebook page and Twitter account will be launched along with the new publication said Ashfield.
Managing editor George Brown said the professional reporting by Grasslands News editorial staff will be supplemented by community contributors and freelancers.
“It will take us some time to understand the needs of the communities so we will work with school liaisons, sports coaches and service club reps to provide us with press releases and coming events information. Your newspaper is only as informative as you help to make it.” He said.
Brown said a short readership survey will be published in upcoming issues and available online so readers can help to create the newspaper they want to read every week.
An open house to meet the new publisher and editor is being planned for this fall.
The Ashfield name has a history with both the Grenfell Sun and Broadview Express as members of the family owned and operated the Sun for 62 years and the Express for 38 years.
The Sun has been publishing weekly since June 1894, having just celebrated its 122nd year of publication. With the purchase of the newspaper, Chris Ashfield will become the third generation of Ashfields to run the newspaper after his great-grandfather Walter Ashfield, grandfather Clifford A. Ashfield, and great-uncles Walter and Joe Ashfield, all of whom had ownership in the Sun at various times from 1921 and 1983.
The first edition of the Broadview Express was printed in 1905 and it too was owned by the Ashfield family, for 38 years between 1945 and 1983.