How (and why) I sold The Clarion

By Corrin Strong

It's lonely at the top. For the last six weeks, I have had to keep the fact that I was negotiating the sale of The Clarion secret from absolutely everyone. I hope the reasons for that are obvious.
Until papers were actually signed last week, there was no certainty that a deal would be made. I had to retain the option to walk away from the table and continue publishing. Any rumor that the paper was for sale would have greatly injured our standing in the marketplace and our ability to survive as a going concern.
I apologize for the deception, but while the negotiations were in progress it was necessay to maintain the appearance of business as usual. Accordingly, I did not tell any of my employees until just the last few days before this final issue. Loose lips sink ships! I realize this may have caused my employees to make promises to our customers that we now can not keep. I regret that, but if it upsets you, blame me, not them. If you are an advertiser, who paid in advance, a refund check is in the mail. If you are a subscriber your remaining subscription will be honored by the LC News.
I would like to apologize to my employees for the deception. I'm sure they are in shock at the suddenness of this announcement, not to mention the loss of their jobs. Although we will continue to operate the Clarion Copy Center, we obviously will not have need for the same level of staffing.
I'm sorry for the difficulties this will cause people who have all been loyal and hard-working employees for many years, but the truth is that I continued publishing The Clarion a lot longer than was good for my own financial (and mental) health.
The economics of having two weekly newspapers in this small of a market never did make much sense. I figured that out a long time ago when I began comparing notes with other publishers around the state. To have two papers in a town as small as Geneseo, although a great boon to readers, is practically unheard of.
The Clarion and the News have gone head to head since they were both founded within a week of each other in 1989. About five years ago I approached Harold Johnson and tried to buy the Livingston County News. “We don't sell newspapers, we buy them,” Harold told me. Earlier this year I decide the time was right to pursue that idea.
In making this decision I also had to take a hard look at my future. Although my health is good now, it was hard to see how the paper could have survived even a minor health crisis for me. With the tight staffing that we could afford, there was simply no margin for error.
It also became clear that none of my four children had any interest in getting into the business. I can't blame them, the newspaper business is not easy, and I would never try to force them to do something that they didn't want to do.
Despite leaving the business, however, I still believe in the importance of the role that local newspapers play in the community. The strength of a community is directly related to the strength of the local community newspaper. I hope all Clarion readers will support the Livingston County News as they carry on the fine tradition of Livingston County journalism. I plan to.
And so, as I write these, my last official words for The Clarion, I want to thank all the readers and advertisers who have supported us over the years. It has been a lot of fun having a front row seat on the many exciting stories in this wonderful community. I'm sure I'll miss it when the next big story breaks, but I leave without regrets.
Well, maybe just one. In the fullness of time, I have come to regret my support for the first Wal-Mart. Although I thought it was a good thing at the time because it would recapture sales tax for the county, I never foresaw that it would eventually morph into the monstrosity of a Super-Center.
Nor did I foresee the attempted invasion of other Big Boxes that even now are threatening to overrun our small town with traffic and sprawl. I will continue to do my best to fight that invasion and I hope you will all join me in that effort. Keep the faith!


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