At least weekly since 1883, the Daily Iowegian has printed in some form, under various names, and been delivered to Centerville and Appanoose County. The May 22 edition brings that to an end.
The newspaper announced last week it would be merging with the Ottumwa Courier and closing its Centerville office. May 22 is the final edition of the newspaper, which had published at least once weekly since April 1883. The newspaper, in a memo from the publisher, said the reason for the merger was economic challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic alongside the ongoing challenges that had already faced the newspaper industry.
The Ottumwa Courier will adopt Appanoose County into its coverage area.
Subscribers are being offered refunds on their Daily Iowegian subscriptions, or they can transfer their subscription credit over to the Ottumwa Courier. The memo published last week from Daily Iowegian Publisher Becky Maxwell said the Ottumwa Courier would determine coverage plans of the area based on the number of subscribers that opt-in to receive the Ottumwa Courier. An advertisement appears on page A2 of Friday’s Daily Iowegian with more details.
The free Ad-Express shopper will continue to be distributed weekly in its current form.
May 22, as a consequence, was proclaimed “Daily Iowegian Appreciate Day” by Centerville Mayor Mike O’Connor. He read the proclamation during Monday’s city council meeting and reacted to the news.
O’Connor, who has been involved in media primarily through radio, said the Daily Iowegian’s closure was disturbing.
“As a longtime member of the media, ... I know that newspapers are extremely important and times are difficult with all that has gone on with the coronavirus and things that have gone on in the industry,” O’Connor said. “For us to lose the Iowegian I think is a real disappointment and a backslide for the city of Centerville.”
The proclamation reads:
WHEREAS, the Freedom of the Press is a vital right to the citizens of the United States as is enshrined by the First Amendment of the US Constitution; and
WHEREAS, local media outlets play a key role in protecting this right for citizens; and
WHEREAS, the Daily Iowegian and its predecessors have served as the paper of record for Centerville and Appanoose County since 1883; and
WHEREAS, the staff, writers, and editors of the Daily Iowegian are valued members of the Centerville community; and
WHEREAS, the Daily Iowegian provides coverage of local events, local persons, and local news that is vital to keeping the Citizens of Appanoose County and the City of Centerville connected; and
WHEREAS, the Daily Iowegian has remained a key partner in keeping citizens informed and active in their local government.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that I, Michael O’Connor, Mayor of Centerville, Iowa, do hereby proclaim May 22, 2020, as “Daily Iowegian Appreciate Day” in Centerville, Iowa.
The news of the merger sparked comments from outside the community, as well.
Matt Bryant, the current publisher of the Southeast Iowa Union and member of the Beck family that once owned the Daily Iowegian, told the Iowa Starting Line the news was not only sad personally, but as a supporter of newspapers.
“People have to understand that communities are better when a newspaper has its collective back, unfortunately not everybody gets that until it is too late,” he said.
Chuck Offenburger, a former Iowa columnist at the Des Moines Register, reacted to the news by pointing to the Daily Iowegian’s strong history of journalism.
“Damn, I hate to see this,” he tweeted. “The Centerville Iowegian once faced down the Ku Klux Klan in that southern Iowa area. It served its communities very well for 137 years. It’s hard to imagine Centerville without it.”