End of an era as Queens County Advance closes

by Scott Costen

  • <p>Scott Costen, photo</p><p>The Advance&#8217;s office in Liverpool.</p>

The Queens County Advance, a source of local news for 140 years, will cease publication later this month and merge with the South Shore Breaker.

"(The Advance) was a very, very small publication from a subscriber standpoint," said Ian Scott, chief operating officer for Saltwire Network, the paper's parent company. The Advance had fewer than 1,000 paid subscribers.

"We have to move to where the economic value is and that's how we can expand journalism," Scott said.

Saltwire bought the Advance last year in a major acquisition of Atlantic Canadian newspapers. The company already owned the Breaker and "it didn't make sense" to continue with two separate publications, Scott said. "The content, which is the important thing, will now in fact have a larger audience and there will be more of it."

An administrative support position at the Advance has been eliminated and the paper's downtown Liverpool offices will be shuttered. The paper's lone reporter will move from a part-time position at the Advance to a full-time job at the Breaker, Scott said. "Her range will expand a little, but it will be predominately in Queens County."

No other staffing changes at the Breaker are anticipated, he said. It will remain a free weekly publication delivered to homes across the South Shore.

First published in 1878, the Advance will be dearly missed by Linda Rafuse, director of the Queens County Museum. "It's a piece of history that's closing," she said. "It has provided so much for Queens County."

Ironically, the paper that chronicled 14 decades of local history will now become part of it.

"We're sorry to see them go, but we're thankful that we did have them and we're happy to preserve their history," Rafuse said. The museum has an exhaustive collection of the Advance from its inception, including hard-bound volumes and a large number of issues on microfilm.

"We have all of it," she said. "Thank goodness the Advance had editors who were interested in preserving the history of that paper. Over the years, they have given us all of the old newspapers and ensured we got a complimentary issue of each paper."

The shuttering of the Advance was part of a larger shuffle at Saltwire.

Mark Lever, the president of Saltwire, sent a memo out to Saltwire staff outlining the changes. They include the merger of the Amherst News and The Citizen Record, and The Truro Daily News and The News in New Glasgow will both shift from paid-for daily publications to paid-for weekly publications, with the Truro Daily News becoming the Truro News.

Lever also announced that layoffs will be forthcoming.

Writing in the Halifax Examiner, editor Tim Bosquet said: "Privately, Saltwire employees are telling me morale is, in the words of one of them, 'in the toilet,' and all I've spoken to fear that more layoffs are likely down the road."

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