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Oconee County Newspaper Shuts Down

Photo Credit: Lee Becker

Oconee County lost another local news and information site on Friday with the closing of  The Oconee Leader, the county’s largely free circulation weekly newspaper.

Publisher Rob Peecher announced the decision to close the newspaper in a front-page “note of thanks to our readers and advertisers” in Friday’s paper.

Peecher cited continued financial problems going back several years as the reason for the decision to close the paper. Friday’s was the last edition of the paper.

The statement by Peecher, which jumps from the front page and takes up almost all of page 7 of the paper, is very personal and detailed, with Peecher thanking staff and family members by name for their assistance since he founded the paper nine years ago.

The statement also appears on the publication’s web site.

This is the second local news outlet to close its operation in the last 16 months, reflecting the difficulty of making money on the production of local news and information in today’s competitive advertising market.

At the end of January 2014, AOL sold its Patch hyperlocal news sites, including the one serving Oconee County, to a joint venture controlled by Hale Global, an investment company that specializes in turnarounds. AOL retained only a minority stake.

The Oconee Patch site still exists, but it is edited by Scott Bernarde out of Gwinnett County.

For more, go to Oconee County Observations.