They say when one door closes, another opens. The City of International Falls recently experienced this age-old expression in an unexpected way, and they could not be happier.
International Falls is located within Koochiching County, Minnesota, on Rainy Lake. The city is often referred to as, "The Icebox of the Nation," and is home to approximately 6,000 residents. Just a few short weeks ago, Jeremy Gulban, CEO of Cherry Road Media Inc. and already the publisher of the Cook County News-Herald in Grand Marais, Minnesota, as well as four Arkansas publications, learned that the existing publication was leaving the community. He saw what he believed was an exciting opportunity and decided to run with it. After meeting with community leaders, including Tricia Heibel (president of the International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce), the plans were quickly set in motion.
On Friday, July 16, CherryRoad Media Inc. (the media division of CherryRoad Technologies Inc., headquartered in Parsippany, New Jersey) distributed Volume 1, Issue 1 of its newest publication, the Rainy Lake Gazette. The vision and creation took shape quickly, and with the help of many hands and hearts, all of whom were dedicated to the shared belief that a continued media outlet for the city of International Falls would be an asset. The paper came to fruition just two weeks after the doors closed at the International Falls Journal. "We are so grateful for CherryRoad Media's decision to support a local print newspaper in our community and are more than happy to help them make local connections," said Heibel. "We excitedly look forward to a wonderful and long partnership with the Rainy Lake Gazette."
Undoubtedly, the first question on everyone's mind was the same. Why another newspaper? In the seemingly all digital world we live in, why work so hard to keep a news source operating, that is commonly considered to be an antiquated business model? Gulban stated that his intentions are always community driven, sharing: "The last three weeks have been the most rewarding of my career. To see how the community in International Falls has rallied together to help us get this initiative off the ground validates the importance of community newspapers. In speaking with people in the community, over the last several weeks, a common theme has been a sense of regret that they took for granted the previous paper would always be there."
A new website for the newspaper has also been created (www.rainylakegazette.com) and will include streamlined methods for readers to interact with both news and advertisers. Gulban further explained his intent was to continue the legacy of the paper long into the future, "…enabling technologies that play an important role in the digital fabric of the community…" As papers throughout the country have ceased production throughout the past few years, Gulban believes, "In order to better fight against these economic forces, a local newspaper needs an infusion of creativity, energy and resources."
While, perhaps, unconventional to operate a newspaper remotely and to tackle this endeavor during unprecedented times, it seems the natural ease and flow of this new ownership has already set in with both an optimistic and positive tone. Gulban shared: "I hope this story inspires other communities to appreciate and support their community newspapers. It is most interesting that this entire effort started with a discussion with our elected officials about the importance of the continued publishing of legal notices in our community newspapers, which is essential for the well-being of these institutions. While this story has a happy ending for International Falls, it is a stark reminder for all of us to do all we can to ensure this scenario does not occur in other communities."
There are many exciting initiatives on the horizon with this new endeavor, with much more to look forward to in the months ahead. Please continue to support your local newspapers. They serve to remind of us of where we have been, as well as where we are headed.