The Kern River Courier, a weekly newspaper that has served the Kern River Valley for 14 years, delivered its final issue Thursday.
Hurt by the recent closure of Reed Print Inc., its printer, the Courier becomes one of the several regional newspapers forced to cease publication. The paper’s demise marks the end of an era in the Kern River Valley.
"It is with great sadness and regret that the Kern River Courier must announce the closing of business effective December 31, 2017, due to circumstances beyond our control, with this December 29, 2017, issue being our last," the paper said on its editorial page.
"The Bakersfield printer that was producing our paper the last three years abruptly closed their doors with less than five working days notice to us," the paper said. "With the ever-shrinking newspaper industry, there were no suitable printers available to us to continue publishing."
The owner-publishers, Michael and Melody Batelaan, thanked their readers, advertisers and team members for their support.
"Thank you, it’s been a good run," they said.
Even as the Courier closes its doors, other small newspapers that relied on Reed for their print runs — including the campus newspapers at both college campuses in Bakersfield — are scrambling to find a replacement.
“Personally I've been in this business for over a half a century and nothing is more heartbreaking to me than watching another newspaper shuttered," said Fred Hall, the operating partner and publisher at Mid-Valley Publishing in Reedley.
The Batelaans approached Hall with the idea that the Tulare County printer could fill the gap following Reed's demise, but for whatever reason, an agreement was not reached.
Hall said he he would have liked to help.
"Small towns, Hall said, "always feel the sting of that missing news source when it is gone. The globalization of everything media-wise tends to make towns and cities ignore how important local news is until it is gone.”
The Californian reported Dec. 18 on Reed's imminent closure, which ended the weekly publication of its five community newspapers: the Arvin Tiller; Lamont Reporter; Shafter Press; Wasco Tribune; and Delano Record.
Reed company President Frank Wallace "Wally" Reed declined to comment on the company's demise.
Another small newspaper that relied on Reed Print, the Bear Valley Cub near Tehachapi, has found itself without a way to print its monthly paper.
But publisher Faith Green said the tiny mountain community needs its little newspaper.
"I am determined to keep going," she said Thursday. "I will do whatever it takes."
Meanwhile, the faculty advisors for the Renegade Rip at Bakersfield College and the Runner at Cal State Bakersfield, were also left in the lurch following Reed's closure.
"Reed has printed The Runner for a long time, at least 15 years," Jennifer Burger, the advisor at CSUB's student newspaper, said in a Facebook message.
Burger said she doesn't yet have a back-up plan.
"We have a back-to-school issue for Jan. 22," she said, "so I'll need to act fast after the holidays.
Erin Auerbach, the Rip advisor at BC, said she is scrambling to find a printer.
"I've called every printer I could find in the Bakersfield area," she said. "None of them do newsprint."
However, she has a backup plan, a printer in Southern California she's used before.
Delivery costs could be expensive, and the distance could mean adjusting the newspaper's production schedule.
"I will find a way," Auerbach said. "This is a good lesson for me. This is a good lesson for the students."