On Brink of Closure, California Weekly Points Finger at Gannett

A very nasty newspaper battle in the central California town of Visalia appears to be drawing to a close. Per an announcement in the Valley Voice, the current edition will be the publication’s last, barring an “eleventh-hour development.”

Originally a monthly when launched in 1979, the Voice switched to bi-monthly and then again in 2007 to a more aggressive weekly publication schedule. The most recent change came about after the paper won a lawsuit with Gannett-owned competitor the Visalia Times-Delta that granted the Voice access to local legal ad channels. But the victory was short-lived:

In 2010, the Voice made the decision to change to an out-of-county printer in order to deliver to its readers a crisper, cleaner newspaper. The change of printers triggered another court challenge from the Times-Delta and ultimately resulted in the loss of adjudication and legal advertising in the Voice.

The decreased ad revenues combined with operating in one of the most challenging economies in modern times has finally compelled the ownership group to schedule a vote on ceasing publication. Because the paper only publishes 48 issues a year, going dark any month that has five Thursdays, this will be the last Voice published in 2011.

By “legal advertising,” we assume the Voice is referring to those cash-cow local DBA listings that many community newspapers around the country depend on. We contacted the paper’s editor for clarification, and also further details on how an out-of-county printer played into this battle. If we hear back, we’ll update the item.