The Red Deer Advocate’s parent company has extended its reach north.
Black Press Group Ltd. has acquired the Leduc-Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer, a weekly newspaper whose circulation includes Leduc, Wetaskiwin, Millet, Calmar, Thorsby and Warburg, as well as Leduc and Wetaskiwin counties, and portions of Ponoka and Camrose counties. The deal closed on Thursday.
Previously operated by Ted and Dian Okkerse through their company, The Pipestone Flyer and Publishing Co., the newspaper is based in Millet. It contains local news and sports, as well as other community information.
More than 23,700 copies of the free newspaper are distributed weekly, mainly through Canada Post. About a half-dozen people work for the Pipestone Flyer, not including contract writers.
“It’s a well-respected paper and it fits in with our company structure of community newspapers,” said Fred Gorman, publisher of the Advocate and president of Black Press’s Prairie Newspaper Group.
“Our strength is community newspapers. We know how to run them and we know what they mean to the communities that they serve, and we take the approach that we’re part of those communities.”
Black Press, which was already printing the Pipestone Flyer on its press in Edmonton, now has 10 community newspapers in Central Alberta. These include the Sylvan Lake News, Stettler Independent, Rimbey Review, Ponoka News, Eckville Echo and Central Alberta Life.
Gorman said the addition of the Pipestone Flyer to this list will benefit new and existing advertisers.
“Now we can offer our clients flyer delivery all the way from Olds to Leduc,” he said.
“Advertisers in one community can easily advertise into another community.”
It will be business as usual at the Pipestone Flyer, said Gorman, although the newspaper will adopt Black Press’s online platform.
“Except for the web page, it’ll be pretty seamless for the readers.”
He said he’s eager to speak with the Pipestone Flyer’s readers and advertisers to obtain their feedback.
The Pipestone Flyer has been publishing since 1997. The Okkerses now plan to retire, said Gorman.
The largest independent newspaper publisher in Canada, Black Press has publications in Western Canada, as well as Washington State, Ohio and Hawaii.