Observer Folds

The Observer, which has been published for 26 years, has called it quits, WINA reports. It was in November of 2002 that ’99-’02 publisher Jeff Peyton called it quits, with his ownership being sold to Ron Hassan shortly thereafter. In January of last year, the two-year-old valley edition was axed, with Observer employees forking off the web-based Augusta Free Press at that point. By all accounts, the paper has limped along since then, so the conservative weekly’s ending doesn’t come as a tremendous surprise. Update: See the comments for some corrections and clarifications from former Observer employees. Also, John Yellig has some details in today’s Progress.

3 thoughts on “Observer Folds”

  1. Chris and Crystal Graham, of the Augusta Free Press (a regular read for me, and should be for you), sent along the following:

    A matter of clarification
    As former Observer staff members cited in the recent posting regarding The Observer, we thought we would aim to inform your readers on a couple of items.

    – After Jeff Peyton’s departure from The Observer, Kimberly Robbins took over as owner, not Ron Hassan as the original posting indicated. Hassan served as the managing editor of the weekly publication.

    – We launched The Augusta Free Press in July 2002. The Shenandoah Valley Observer continued publication through January 2003. No other Observer staffers left the paper to participate with us in the startup of the AFP. Patrick Hite did join us as a freelance contributor around the time The Shenandoah Valley Observer closed. He continued to work full time for the Charlottesville Observer until last week.

    Expect some clarification/corrections on the Observer side of things, too. It’s amazing how much can be gotten wrong in a single paragraph. :)

  2. Kimberly Robbins, newly-formerly of The Observer, sent along the following:

    (A) Main Street Media bought the Charlottesville Observer in March of 2000. (B) Main Street Media was owned by Donald P. Hodel (90%) and Jeff Peyton (10%). (C) Jeff Peyton was fired in November 2002 and his 10% was signed over to Don Hodel. (D) In January of 2003, Don Hodel turned the ownership over to me, Kimberly S. Robbins, not Ron Hasson. (E)Ron became our managing editor in March 2003. Prior to that, he was a staff writer beginning about Aug ’02. (F) The Augusta Free Press was launched by Chris and Crystal Graham, three months before Peyton left the scene and about six months before the SV paper closed. (G) Since Jan ’03, the paper has far from limped along. Through much hard work, renegotiation of debt, renegotiation of printing contracts, etc. it had actually begun to make a little money in 2004…certainly the 2nd quarter of 2004 was the best in my history with the paper (joined Observer in March 1990). That is why I decided it was finally “sale-able” and started putting feelers out. Had the potential buyer not left me standing at the altar, hours prior to closing, The Observer would still be in publication today. Any other buyers out there?

    Hopefully, that clears everything up. I’m getting a lot of e-mail about this story.

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