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Long-time Moose Lake newspaper ceases publication

Wendy Johnson

Lois Johnson, editor of the Arrowhead Leader in Moose Lake, showed up for work last Wednesday, only to discover a "closed" sign on the door of the newspaper


"The door was unlocked, so I went inside and asked Denise [Blake, the newspaper's owner/publisher] what was going on," said Johnson. "She told me the company was not going to publish the newspaper anymore because they can no longer afford to."

The news came as a surprise to Johnson, as well as most members of the small, tight-knit northern Minnesota community. The last issue of the weekly Arrowhead Leader was published on Thursday, Oct. 25, with no indication that it would be the newspaper's final edition. The decision to close its doors for good reportedly came the following Tuesday.

Blake, who could not be reached for comment, worked as the office manager at the Arrowhead Leader for seven years before buying the newspaper in January. Johnson said Blake had made some personal sacrifices in recent months to try to keep the paper afloat, but she was unable to keep enough revenue coming in the door to pay the printing costs.

"I think there had been some ongoing issues," said Johnson. "When you look at the big picture, there was simply no way to keep up. With the Star Gazette/Evergreen Shopper right across town, there just wasn't enough advertising business to go around in a town this size. It's hard to compete with a newspaper that has a


Added to that, Johnson said, was the fact that a number of accounts hadn't paid their bills and some of the newspaper's big advertisers were no longer advertising with them.

"It was really a combination of things," she acknowledged.

The Arrowhead Leader has been in business for the past 30 years and had a circulation of 1,040 subscribers. A voice mail message at the newspaper's office states that subscribers are eligible to receive a pro-rated refund on their paid subscriptions.

In addition to Blake and Johnson, the newspaper had one part-time employee, Jack Halverson, who reported on sports, and a freelance sports photographer. It was previously owned by Skip


Johnson is now employed part time at the Star Gazette, covering school board and features.

"I think she will be a great asset to the Star Gazette, and I value her tenure and commitment to covering news in the area," commented Star Gazette owner Tim Franklin.