The May 7, 2020, edition of Hastings Star Gazette will be the last.
RiverTown Multimedia officials said declining print advertising in the past year compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic -- which has hurt many of the businesses that placed print advertisements -- prompted the decision. The development means RiverTown Multimedia will stop devoting reporting resources to Hastings.
“The decision to cease publication is not one we welcome. We understand this is a loss for Hastings,” Publisher Neal Ronquist said.
“We know that some local businesses won’t survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Sadly, the Star Gazette in four weeks will become one of those,” RiverTown Multimedia News Director Anne Jacobson said.
Publication of The Bulletin serving Woodbury and Cottage Grove also will cease. That publication’s final edition will be May 6.
Ronquist noted that RiverTown Multimedia Group, along with all of Forum Communications Co., continues to adjust its business model in response to the unprecedented impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on local, state and national economies and the newspaper industry.
“The disruption to the advertising revenue of the Hastings Star Gazette and The Bulletin has resulted in these two publications no longer remaining financially viable,” he said. “Advertising revenue accounts for approximately 70% of the revenue our paid newspapers generate.”
Subscribers will receive the remaining balance on their accounts after the May 6 edition. Ronquist said refunds should arrive no later than June 15.
“We appreciate the loyal subscribers and the business partnerships we have had throughout the many years,” he said.
RiverTown also will cease to dedicate online news to these communities. Ronquist said there may be occasional information about south Washington County on RiverTowns.net, but not from dedicated reportage.
RiverTown will focus on the Republican Eagle, serving the area surrounding Red Wing, Minn., and Ellsworth, Wis., and the Star-Observer, serving Hudson, New Richmond and River Falls, Wisconsin.
Ronquist said his hope remains that readers will support journalism, which he said is vitally important to our way of life.
“If we want to live in healthy communities, then we need to support the work of professional journalists,” he said. “Whether readers consume content via print or digital, it is the work of professional journalists that keep our government officials in check, keep our communities informed -- especially in times like these -- and share the milestones of friends and family members.”