Today – October 27th, 2021 – is the last issue you’ll be seeing of Cloverdale’s hometown paper, the Hoosier Topics. As reported in their September 29th edition, the decision to shut down the Hoosier Topics “was made necessary by the broader digital transformation that has impacted newspapers across the country.”

The Hoosier Topics has long served the citizens of Cloverdale and the surrounding areas with coverage of local news and events. Almost anyone who has grown up here has enjoyed seeing people they know featured in the paper, whether it was a child’s letter to Santa, a cousin featured as a Student of the Week, or coverage of local youth and high school sporting events. Important information about school board and town council issues that affect all Cloverdale residents was generally covered regularly as well.

We would like to thank the Hoosier Topics and all the people who have worked for them over the years for their service to our community.

An Alarming Trend

This is not the first time we’ve lost a local newspaper. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Thursday Morning Bee? The Putnam County Graphic? These are two other papers that were based here in Cloverdale that have since closed their doors.

Or maybe you remember The Bainbridge News? The Democrat? The Greencastle Daily Sun? The Greencastle Herald? The Indiana Patriot? The Putnam County Sentinel? These are all papers formerly published right here in Putnam County. In fact, the Library of Congress lists more than 40 newspapers that have come and gone here since the early 1800’s. At one point, more than a dozen newspapers served communities throughout the county.

Unfortunately this situation is becoming all too common with local papers. Our country has seen more than 2,000 local papers disappear just since 2004. We are now down to one news paper in Putnam County, The Banner Graphic, which is currently publishing on a twice-a-week basis. Many in Cloverdale also read Owen County’s lone newspaper, the Spencer Evening World, also owned by the same company as the Hoosier topics.

Hoosier Topics History

The company closing the doors on the Hoosier Topics was formed as part of a 2019 merger between Gannett (owner of the USA Today newspaper and over 100 others) and New Media Enterprises / Gatehouse Media (owner of more than 400 newspapers across 39 states, most of them smaller local newspapers like Hoosier Topics). Gannett turned the Hoosier Topics into a “ghost newspaper” – primarily publishing recycled wire and USA Today gems, with titles like “Deer crashes are more common in the Fall” and “Dark windows can save birds” taking the front page feature.

Prior to its acquisition by Gannett, Hoosier Topics was owned by Shurz Communications / Hoosier Times, a regional business that also owned other nearby media like the Herald Times in Bloomington, the Reporter-Times in Martinsville, the Mooresville-Decatur Times, and other newspapers in Southern to West Central Indiana. Shurz purchased both the Spencer Evening World and the Hoosier Topics from their employees, who purchased it from the Gillaspy Family in 2011 through an employee stock ownership plan.

John Gillaspy of Spencer, Indiana was the publisher of the Hoosier Topics, among other newspapers, until he passed away October 12, 2006. We know the Gillaspy Family incorporated as a business in 2007, prior to the sale of the Hoosier Topics and Evening World to its employees, but the trail runs cold prior to Gillaspy’s ownership.

We don’t know who Gillaspy acquired the Hoosier Topics from, and all we have been able to uncover about the founding of the Hoosier Topics is that a company called Kirby Publishing or Kirby Publications was the original progenitor, and the paper has been publishing at least since 1983, and possibly much longer. The Library of Congress sample issue states Volume 6 Number 47 as its reference issue, which likely means the paper was founded about five years earlier, in 1978.

A Final Farewell

Thank you to all the former owners of the Hoosier Topics for keeping Cloverdale informed for the last 40+ years. We hope Citizen One can take it from here, using new technology and a new approach to local journalism, information and story-telling. We are sure going to try our best to offer the same kinds of information in a new way, and we hope to serve as Cloverdale’s new source for local news for decades to come. Thanks for reading, and please stand by.

 

 

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Sources:

Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, Indiana, Putnam. (2015). The Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/collections/directory-of-us-newspapers-in-american-libraries/

https://www.loc.gov/item/sn00065014/

https://www.loc.gov/item/sn83007415/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/ghost-papers-and-news-deserts-will-america-ever-get-its-local-news-back/2019/12/25/2f57c7d4-1ddd-11ea-9ddd-3e0321c180e7_story.html

‌H-T Report. (2017, September 13). Hoosier Times to acquire Spencer Evening World, Ellettsville Journal. The Herald-Times; The Herald-Times. https://www.heraldtimesonline.com/story/news/local/2017/09/13/hoosier-times-to-acquire-spencer-evening-world-ellettsville-journal/47768711/

Times-Mail. (2017, September 13). Hoosier Times to acquire Spencer Evening World, Ellettsville. The Times-Mail; The Times-Mail. https://www.tmnews.com/story/news/local/2017/09/13/hoosier-times-to-acquire-spencer-evening-world-ellettsville/47781813/

Hoosier Times. (2019, August 6). Hoosier Times’ parent company purchases Gannett. The Times-Mail; The Times-Mail. https://www.tmnews.com/story/news/2019/08/06/hoosier-times-parent-company-purchases-ganne/46673323/

Wikipedia Contributors. (2021, September 4). Schurz Communications. Wikipedia; Wikimedia Foundation. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schurz_Communications

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_owned_by_GateHouse_Media#Indiana