The Eagle Democrat, Warren’s local newspaper, is set to print its last edition on Wednesday after 136 years of publication.
Publisher Danny Cook, 71, and his wife, Pam, who have owned and operated the business for more than two decades with a small heating and air business, decided to sell the paper for health reasons.
They are asking $170,000 for the newspaper, located at 200 W. Cypress St., which includes offices, printing equipment, computers, software and other assets. Cook said the new owners would benefit from the money remaining in the newspaper’s bank account and in accounts receivable, which would result in a net price of around $90,000.
“The newspaper is still a profitable business,” he said over the phone. “If someone wants a specialized newspaper, they can always make a good living here.”
The Eagle Democrat has served the community of Warren and Bradley County since 1885, covering a range of historical events, from the deadly tornadoes of 1949 and 1975 to the state championship football team of 2001.
“We are going to miss it desperately,” Warren Mayor Denisa Pennington said. “It’s been a part of so many people’s lives for so many years. People subscribe and it’s their connection back home. It’s just sad.”
Smaller publications have struggled and closed as more and more people get their news and information from the internet. But Cook said that’s not the case with Eagle Democrat, which has a circulation of around 3,900 copies per week. He is able to run the business with special sections throughout the year.
If a “young mom-and-pop type” were to take over, he said, they could be more aggressive with advertising and earn a lot more. The Cooks bought the newspaper in 1998 from former publisher Bob Newton. Recently it has been difficult for the family to manage the newspaper and Cook Heating and Air.
“My doctors advised me to give up on one or the other,” he said. “It’s hard to do two jobs at my age.”
Cook said he plans to meet a potential buyer shortly after turning down several offers from people seeking a lower price, but the paper is unlikely to sell out before publication ends.
The newspaper, one of Bradley County’s oldest businesses, informed readers of its plan with a note in its weekly Wednesday edition. The Saline River Chronicle, an online rival to the Eagle Democrat, first reported the news. The Eagle Democrat does not have a website.
If a buyer doesn’t materialize, Sandy Doss, manager of the Warren Branch Library, said it would be odd not to have a local newspaper.
“We have customers who come here every Wednesday just to read the paper and that’s their schedule,” Doss said. “For a lot of them, that’s their only information. They don’t connect.”