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Two more suburban weeklies die

Papers in Stillwater, Lake Elmo succumb to the advertising depression.
By David Brauer

Fargo-based Forum Communications has shuttered its Stillwater Courier and Lake Elmo Leader, editor Yvonne Klinnert announced late Tuesday afternoon.

Klinnert cited “the same economic pressures that are rocking so many businesses, and the news business especially” for killing off the 2,000-circulation papers. Ironically, American Community Newspapers, which owns Courier daily competitor Stillwater Gazette, declared bankruptcy last week, though that paper remains open.

In February, ACN killed off its South St. Paul/Inver Grove Heights paper, but this is Forum’s first closure. The Courier and Leader were part of its RiverTown Newspapers Group, which includes four western Wisconsin papers and affiliates such as the Hastings Star-Gazette, Red Wing Republican-Eagle, Woodbury Bulletin, and three other Minnesota papers.

According to one source, six of seven employees were terminated with three days severance. Staffers include a full-time reporter, photographer, sports writer and two graphics workers. Employees were told the Stillwater and Lake Elmo papers were the only RiverTown publications to fold, the source says.

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The Courier won the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s Mills Trophy, signifying the state’s best weekly, twice since 2005. Forum purchased the paper that year, and launched the Lake Elmo paper two years earlier, according to Klinnert.

Forum owns many dailies around the state, including the Duluth News-Tribune, Bemidji Pioneer, West Central Tribune and the Worthington Globe.