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Del Rio News-Herald Publishes Final Issue, Val Verde County Becomes ‘News Desert’

The news of the closure appears above the fold on the frontpage of the final edition.
Del Rio News-Herald
The news of the closure appears above the fold on the frontpage of the final edition.

The Del Rio News-Herald published its final newspaper Wednesday. The paper’s roots go back to 1884.

An article posted to its website stated, “Effective immediately, The Del Rio News-Herald will no longer publish a newspaper or Grande Magazine or serve the Val Verde community.”

The paper is owned by Southern Newspapers Inc., which publishes more than a dozen small town papers across Georgia, Alabama and Texas. Its holdings include the Kerrville Daily Times, the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung and the Seguin Gazette.

Company president Leonard Woolsey notified staff members of the closure the day before the final issue. According to a statement, the company will provide “compensation packages to Del Rio News-Herald employees, in gratitude for their service.”

The closure comes as the pandemic takes a toll on the news media industry, especially the print sector, which relies on event advertisements. Since March, newspapers across the country have been shuttered and journalists laid off, even as they provided hyperlocal information to communities that are often undercovered.

But the struggles of print go back further than the pandemic. The advent of social media platforms like Facebook — and the targeted advertising opportunities that they provide — have undercut the core business model of many print publications.

In April, the News-Herald moved from a daily publication schedule to just two issues a week. According to a statement, “That effort to cut costs failed to return the paper to sustainability.”

Val Verde County now has no newspapers or locally focused broadcast news outlets. It joins hundreds of other counties across the country that are considered “news deserts.”

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Dominic Anthony Walsh can be reached at Dominic@TPR.org and on Twitter at @_DominicAnthony