After 64 years in business, the Fort Nelson News will be no more. A notice was posted yesterday, letting the communities of the Northern Rockies and beyond know that the final edition will be September 13, 2023 and that the doors will close for good on September 29, 2023.
The decision wasn’t made lightly, but the business is no longer financially viable, bleeding money through the COVID-19 pandemic and general economic downturn. Their website depended on the hard copy and had no other revenue streams.
“This comes as a result of the worldwide trend embracing social media and the internet in all its forms, as well as the slump in local business activity, which has aggravated the situation over the years,” reads the notice.
The paper had a circulation of roughly 2,000 and served the Alaska Highway all the way to Watson Lake and Fort Liard. The paper was originally a sister product to the Alaska Highway News, sharing the same founder - Margaret ‘Ma’ Murray.
The paper was soon sold to newspaperman Bob Angus, who purchased it for $3,000, including a table, a typewriter, and the newspaper title. By 1973, the paper had changed hands again, sold to Judith and Anthony Kenyon - they’ve been running it ever since, with Judith as the long-time editor.
A doctor by trade, and also serving the community for many years, Anthony says his role was really just as co-owner - the real dedication came from his wife Judith, who has never missed publishing an issue at the weekly paper.
“She’s been publisher and editor for 50 years, put out 2,500 editions, and never missed one - which is quite a record,” he said. “She’s quite modest about it.”
The Kenyons have been a part of the community since 1966, arriving from London, England with their daughter Abigail, who was only four at the time. Anthony had accepted a four-month locum at the request of the resident physician Dr. Damian Metten, and Judith soon became a reporter for the Fort Nelson News, before stepping into the role of publisher and editor.
Judith has been contacted for her comments on the closure, and said she'll call back when able. This is a developing story.
Tom Summer, Alaska Highway News, Local Journalism Initiative. Have a story idea or opinion? Email firstname.lastname@example.org