The Wood River Journal, a weekly newspaper published in Hailey that serves Idaho’s posh Sun Valley area, has been sold by Lee Enterprises to an investment group led by an eastern Idaho newspaper publisher.
Brad Hurd, publisher of the Twin Falls Times-News and regional manager for Lee, says the company also intends to close two other weekly newspapers in southern Idaho.
Hurd attributed the sale of the Wood River Journal, one of Idaho’s oldest newspapers, and the closures of the Lincoln County Journal in Shoshone and the Minidoka County News in Rupert to declines in readership and ad revenue. Terms of the deal were not immediately disclosed.
The sale “will enable us to focus our resources on the Times-News and the South Idaho Press in Burley,” Hurd said. “We have strong subscriber bases for our daily newspapers in these communities.”
The investor group buying the Journal includes the Post Co. of Idaho Falls, owners of the Post Register and three eastern Idaho weeklies, and a group of Sun Valley area business leaders who sought to keep the paper in local hands.
The Post Co. is owned by Jerry and Jack Brady, their families and by employees of the company. Jerry Brady ran for governor of Idaho as a Democrat in 2002 and 2006, losing both times.
Brady said the Journal staff will remain intact after the sale is final. He also said the newspaper, which competes with the Idaho Mountain Express for readers and advertisers in Ketchum, Hailey and Bellevue, will be managed by the Post Register. The Wood River Journal distributes 13,500 copies free each week.
The Wood River Journal traces its history back to l881, while the Post Register dates to l880, making them two of the oldest continuously published newspapers in the state.
The sale is expected to become final May 1.