Local News

Family-Owned Newspapers A Dying Breed

Posted January 6, 2005 4:39 a.m. EST

— The Fayetteville Observer has published papers for almost two centuries.

The Observer started in 1816 and turned daily in 1896.

Maybe most impressive, the same family -- Charles Broadwell's family -- has owned it for the last 82 years.

"There are not many of us left in the United States," said Charles Broadwell.

These days, large companies are on the move, buying up newspapers.

Sometimes that growth comes at the expense of family-owned papers such as the Durham Herald-Sun, where Paxton recently bought the paper and laid off several staffers.

"I'm sure Durham will continue to be a good newspaper," Broadwell said. "But, I can't help but believe that ... with the talent that they're losing ... that there's a casualty there. There really is."

Many readers say they take the local paper personally. They consider it their paper, as if it belongs to the community.

"Well, it tells you more about what's happening in town and what you can do in town and who your neighbors are and what's happening with them," said David Marcotte, a newspaper reader.

Family-owned papers rely on that.

"People know us as the paper," Broadwell said. "They may love us. They may not like everything we do, but, by gosh, we are their newspaper.""

Broadwell is the fourth generation to own The Observer. He's seen changes in its printing press and the industry's move toward corporate ownership.

Even so, he hopes to keep his business a "home edition."