The Montgomery County Gazette newspaper will close and the final edition has been published. Post Community Media, the parent company of the Gazette, cited declining advertising revenue and inability to find a buyer to purchase the Prince George’s and Montgomery County editions. Earle Hightower established The Gazette in 1959 in the basement of his Rockville home, making it truly a hometown newspaper. Ironically, the newspaper folded the same week as Hightower, 92, passed away at his home in North Carolina.
In a letter to readers, the editor reflected on the past 56 years: “As journalists, it has been our duty, indeed our imperative, to expose both the good works and the machinations of government and industry, and to encourage debate as to which was which. As a community newspaper, it has also been our mission, indeed our passion, to expose the ordinary as extraordinary — a fundraiser for an ill child, a centenarian’s surprise birthday party.”
The newspaper business has increasingly become financially unsustainable, both in terms of attracting advertising dollars (which has moved from print to other media) and in gaining a foothold on the Internet. There was hope that local newspapers would be able to weather the storm because they offered something that others media could not: local content to local residents. Now the Gazette joins Patch and Rockville Central, leaving local coverage to the Washington Post, Rockville Living and the Sentinel. The Sentinel is already struggling to capture an audience and is now facing additional problems of its own making. Turns out that it published a series of cartoons over the years that that were lifted from newspapers across the country, including the Palm Beach Daily, Columbia Daily Tribune, New Yorker, and the Guardian, without attribution or payment. Now facing accusations of plagiarism and copyright violation from dozens of artists and newspapers, it’s pulled those cartoons from its website but could also be subject to lawsuits and payments that could jeopardize its future and its credibility.