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8 North Dakota Newspapers Cease With Family Business’s Closure

The final editions of eight weekly newspapers rest on a table at the North Dakota Newspaper Association office in Bismarck, N.D., Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023. Eight weekly newspapers in northeastern North Dakota ceased publication in early August with the closure of the century-old, family-run Ness Press, begun in 1922. The business had no one to take it over, with few businesses and little advertising revenue in its local area. (AP Photo/Jack Dura)

Eight weekly newspapers in northeastern North Dakota have ceased publication with the closure of a century-old family business.

Fordville-based Ness Press closed in early August. Ken Ness, who volunteered at the business his Norwegian immigrant father established in 1922, said “there was nobody to take it over.”

“And the same reason other newspapers have closed: The town had no advertising. There wasn’t any businesses, so there’s no advertising,” he told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Ness’ 88-year-old brother, Truman Ness, was editor, publisher and owner. He and his wife, Carol, wrote a thank-you note to readers and business patrons that said, “It is with both sadness and happiness that I tell you that this week’s newspaper is the last one I will send to you. After 60 years and more operating the newspaper plus being a ‘printer’s devil’ during my growing years this will be different, but I expect to join the crowd of retired people.”

Ness Press had two employees and three or four volunteers, Ken Ness said. The eight papers printed about 1,400 to 1,500 copies, he said. Ness Press also provided printing services.

Other North Dakota newspapers have closed or nearly closed in recent years, some of them the only paper in their county.

Newspaper advocates have warned of “news deserts,” or areas without local newspaper coverage, as a detriment to communities.

Source: US News