For Sale: A Small-Town Journalism Future

This Oregon weekly can be yours.

MalheurEnterpriseThe price for this Vale, Ore. publication was once $90,000. It’s now down to a very reasonable $26,000.

Owner-operator Rick Nelson, a one-time copy editor and music journalist with The News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash., is determined to sell weekly newspaper The Malheur Enterprise by fall. He’s been running it remotely, is ready for retirement and says the potential is unlimited:

The good news: We’re back in the black after losing $13,000 last year as the recession bottomed out. While a loss is a loss, it has to be qualified with the fact that a hands-on owner would keep between $26,000 and $61,000 in their pocket from wages paid to part-timers, most of whom are eager and/or expecting to leave…

More good news: Even running things the way I have, I netted $76,000 pre-cession (2010). Good: We get legal announcements. Bad: That 2010 figure was inflated by foreclosures.

Maybe best of all: There is real growth potential. While located in the county seat, a nearby community [Nyssa] is ripe for a circulation and advertising push. If I were even 10 years younger, I’d go for it.

A lot of New Yorkers are moving west these days. Maybe some enterprising young soul with a taste for some Northern Exposure-like adventure and either a nest egg or ability to score that purchase amount in the form of a loan can make a bid for the good journalism life. It sounds like it might still exist in this corner of southeast Oregon.

In the August 2 for-sale ad, Nelson reveals that he currently has a pair of offers that are on a defrayed contract basis. Print circulation for The Malheur Enterprise is around 1,300.

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