Mark Lever, President and CEO of the Saltwire Network has confirmed that his company has closed the Sackville Tribune-Post.
“Every time a brand goes away, it’s a sad, sad day,” Lever said today during a telephone interview.
He added that subscriptions to the Tribune-Post had fallen below 400 when Saltwire suspended publication of its weeklies a year ago after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lever explained that the paper would need a minimum of 1,000 paid subscriptions or “memberships” to make it a viable business and the Halifax-based Saltwire Network saw no prospect of it reaching that threshold.
“We know what the paper meant to the community,” he said, “but we weren’t making money and there was a lack of public demand.”
He said that while closing the Tribune-Post was a necessary decision, it was also a painful one, partly because Owen Barnhill, Saltwire’s Chief Financial Officer is from Sackville and he grew up reading the paper.
Hope for Amherst News
In the meantime, Lever said Saltwire is hoping to revive the Amherst News once it reaches the 1,000 subscriber threshold, but he’s not sure yet when that might be.
“We’re still hoping to bring it back,” he added. “We feel there’s an opportunity for it to come back.”
At the moment, Saltwire is distributing a weekly publication called the Cumberland Wire as part of its advertising flyer package delivered to 20,000 households in northern Nova Scotia. But Lever says the Cumberland Wire is filled with light features while a revived Amherst News would carry the serious journalism the area needs.
He adds that the Amherst News would carry local advertising, but its main focus would be attracting subscribers who would also have digital access to all of Saltwire’s publications including its daily papers in Halifax, Cape Breton, Charlottetown and St. John’s.
The Sackville Tribune-Post was born nearly 75 years ago — on June 3, 1946 — when The Sackville Tribune joined with its arch rival The Sackville Post.
The Tribune-Post was one of the few non-Irving papers in New Brunswick. The Saint Croix Courier is the other non-Irving-owned English language weekly.
In his “Tantramar Flashback” column on September 23, 2009, Sackville historian Bill Hamilton wrote that the older of the two papers, The Sackville Post dated from May 12, 1870 while The Sackville Tribune first appeared in 1902.
Bruce Wark worked in broadcasting and journalism education for more than 35 years. He was at CBC Radio for nearly 20 years as senior editor of network programs such as The World at Six and World Report. He currently writes for The New Wark Times where this story first appeared on March 7, 2021.