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Munising News ending a run of 125 years

We note with sadness the apparent end of The Munising News, a weekly which has served Alger County for 125 years.

Owners Willie and Nancy Peterson announced the paper and the Alger County Shopper, as well, will be ending their runs this month.

Willie Peterson has been in the news business for 50 years, first at The Mining Journal, where he rose to the post as advertising manager, then as owner of the Munising weekly for 23 years.

When asked why, he said: “Lack of Employees.”

He told Mining Journal Staff Writer Christie Mastric it takes eight people to put the paper out. When this month comes to a close, his staff will number three.

Peterson cited other businesses in the same situation, that is, being unable to fill job openings. He cited COVID-19 unemployment benefits as the reason.

“We pay them $400 a week to stay home,” Willie Peterson said. “You look at our ‘Help Wanted’ section. It’s full.”

Business itself, he noted, is good.

Peterson said before the pandemic, it was easier to find people to hire but it was a challenge attracting reporters to the paper.

“I’ve been advertising for writers for over a year,” he said. “I need graphics people. I need writers. I need salespeople. It’s the whole gamut.”

While daily newspapers around the country are dealing with ongoing problems in financial and circulation realms due to a myriad of issues, including competition from the internet, Peterson said he believes local publications are an exception.

“The community papers are still doing very well because the type of news that we give our subscribers, they can’t get anywhere else,” Willie Peterson said. “(For example) what Johnny or Susie did at the basketball game last night, Grandma cuts it out and sticks it on the fridge.

“You don’t get that anywhere else.”

The Munising News’ masthead reads, “The Only Newspaper In The World That Gives A Darn About Alger County Since 1896” and while other media outlets do cover Alger County happenings, the newspaper was specifically focused on the Alger County area.

Kay Vertz, who contributed stories to the March 20 edition of The Munising News, said she knows the decision to end publication was difficult.

“(The Petersons) believe community newspapers are as viable today as they have ever been and feel social media, radio stations, online news and local newspapers all complement one another and don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Vertz said.

Willie Peterson called the loss of The Munising News “huge” for the community.

“We’ve been the newspaper of record for 125 years,” he said. “The transparency in government will suffer. Citizens won’t know when government meetings are. It was nice to be able to pick up the paper and find that. They’re not going to go home at night and call up every township website to see what’s going on.”

The Munising News, Willie Peterson said, has received an outpouring of support.

“They’re really going to miss us,” he said.

We wish the Petersons well as they decide what to do next.

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