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Categorized | Featured, News

Good-bye Cedar Springs Post

By Lois Allen

Our first edition from 1988.

There has been a steady decline of local newspapers since The Cedar Springs Post was created in 1988. Back then everyone was on the same pages. If they wanted to know what was going on in their community, they picked up the local newspaper. Local journalists are disappearing across the country, creating what is known as news deserts. The local paper is the collateral damage of the new largely unregulated social media and internet software controlled take-over of our lives.

As creator and publisher of The Post it is my regret and duty to tell you, a Post reader, that The Cedar Springs Post will be publishing its last issue. We have just enough money in our bank account to produce this week, but it does not look good for next week.

As hard as it is to close, we don’t want our readers to wonder, “Where’s the Post and why isn’t it here?” So I’m letting everyone know. There will be no papers in our 60 plus newsstands, and no online version to view.

There’s a battle going on. It’s a battle for your attention, your business and your money. So, there is no shortage of advertising, just in the local paper.

People often say we should just charge for it, but it isn’t that simple. Postage for a year of mailing is over $40 now. Every publication, including cable, TV, magazines, as well as sporting events, even NPR, which is listener supported, need advertising dollars to survive. And we need it too.

Expenses run about $3,000 weekly with payroll for five employees at around $1,500 or more depending on hours. Printing a 16 page paper is about $800 for 3,000 copies. Then there is insurance, payroll taxes, internet, phone, software, hardware, lights, heat, water bill and other misc expenses.

Someone once said, “All good things come to an end.” Why? For nearly three and a half decades, The Post has been all things Cedar Springs. Its pages were an example of the kind of community we are and the people who live here. 

In these super stressful and uncertain times, it’s nice to be able to read something low-tech that is already downloaded and printed for you without having to log on, create a username, and then a password or any other personal information. You can read it privately. You don’t have to negotiate software or even need electricity! And I guarantee you it won’t crash.

We know you appreciate us and are thankful for the support, donations, and wonderful comments on our go-fund-me campaign that we started last February. We were able, with your help, to continue to publish for an additional six months! Thank you! I was so uplifted that I matched the donations and contributed $6,000 of my own savings to keep us running.

Thirty-four years is not a bad run for an independently owned community paper in a rural area that my dad told me would not succeed. “Cedar Springs can’t afford a newspaper,” he told me. But he was wrong for three and a half decades. I saw growth. I believed the paper would grow with the community. I believed it had great potential. But then shoppers were created. Shoppers were newspapers without journalists. They could print more and sell cheaper advertising because they didn’t have to use space and money for stories (papers don’t make money on stories). And then came the internet and social media and new software programs designed to get your attention—and money.

Every year The Post printed a tax page for our local tax preparers along with tax tips for the year. This year there were no tax preparer ads at all. I like to shop local so I shop the newspaper when I need a plumber, an electrician, a roofer, haircut, tax consultant or any other local services and goods. But they are not there. They don’t need us anymore. 

The paper worked hard to be a valuable service for our residents. The Post helped to reunite hundreds of pets with their owners when they came up missing or were found. All you had to do was call, and at no charge. Now there are several websites for that.

Each week we run animals for adoption in our “pet of the week” for the Humane Society without charge, but could never get a veterinarian to sponsor it. If you wanted to meet new friends and give to a local cause, you could find it in our Hometown Happenings for our non-profit organizations. We had support to run festival schedules for area festivals so you didn’t have to find a brochure ‘cause it was in the paper. Honor rolls for Cedar Springs Schools were possible because the businesses stepped up and sponsored them and we’re grateful for that for sure.

I’ve spent literally half my life keeping this little newspaper in Cedar Springs alive. It feels like the loss of a loved one. With its loss, we lose a tiny piece of democracy. The world is sooo crazy now, the paper was a slice of sanity thanks to our great editor, Judy Reed. It looks awesome because of our talented graphic designer, Belinda Sanderson and it ran smoothly because of our office manager and our rock, Mary Randall. The sales we have are because of our ever cheerful sales rep, Marybeth Ford and it was always in the newsstands every Thursday because of our very dependable delivery guy, Dan Randall. And also, Waldo, our official feline greeter. I know it will be missed greatly.

A local paper was the perfect place to shop local because it was affordable to all small businesses who don’t have the financial means to advertise like the large national corporations. Big corporate wants 200,000 views, not just 20,000. And when local businesses ran their ads in the paper, they were surrounded by exclusive news stories, local people, your neighbors and friends. Children were celebrated for their accomplishments and constructive projects, giving them a sense of pride.

We have had loyal advertisers that have kept us going for many years. Like Larry’s Northtown of Greenville and Ray Winnie Auto, also in Greenville, Sparta Chevy in Sparta, Northend Tire in Cedar Springs, Robinson’s Septic, Kelly’s Restaurant, The Cedar Springs Brewery, Intandem Credit Union (formally Kent County Credit Union), Creative Technologies Academy, Cedar Springs Public Schools, and so many more that have stepped up to support the newspaper. 

But there has been a steady decline of advertisers as prices for everything rises. Smaller businesses are struggling, just like us. It’s been hard to watch the paper grow thinner, running a skeleton crew and struggling to meet expenses. It is sad, and a little scary too. How to find the truth? Who to believe? It’s so confusing now.

But we will leave a legacy. Our paper is bound into hardcover for each year we publish and then donated to the Cedar Springs Historical Society. Our legacy will show a community where everyone gets along and pulls together to make this a better place to live, work and play.

We love you Cedar Springs.

Front of The POST building from 2015.

Publisher note: Email from Donald Hamblin, April 13, 2022

Hi, thank you so much for the article in Hometown Happenings. We had tried several other avenues with no success in getting the word out regarding pickle ball at Magnify Church, but because of this article we had several new people come that turned our evening into a success. Best 10 bucks ever… We were actually thinking about discontinuing the games, but the picture is completely changed due to this article.

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