The Guadalupe County Communicator, a weekly newspaper based in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, that caught nationwide attention in 2009 when a well-known, laid-off veteran journalist bought it, soon will turn over the office keys to another veteran journalist.
Communicator owner and publisher M.E. Sprengelmeyer made the announcement during his “From the Publisher” column in the newspaper this week. He said Tom McDonald, a journalist whose stints has included newspapers in Las Vegas and Roswell in New Mexico, would take over the reins in early December.
In a Facebook post, McDonald said Sprengelmeyer “made me an offer I couldn’t refuse” and it’s “a dream come true.”
Sprengelmeyer said he was stepping away for several reasons:
— The newspaper needs someone with more know-how and energy to keep the advertising dollars flowing into it. “I’m a journalist first, second, third and fourth. The business side is a distant fifth,” he wrote. “I’m more journalist than capitalist.”
— He’s been dealing with health issues — partly from a balky hip — and he hasn’t had a proper vacation in years. “I’m running out of gas.”
— “The biggest reason is a family reason.” He explained his mother may need to undergo a serious surgery, and the time constraints of running the newspaper kept him from visiting his mom during her last health scare. “… It was a wake-up call that I can’t continue putting this awesome adventure in community journalism ahead of my mother, my two sisters, my uncles, my aunts and all those friends who stopped inviting me to visit because I never have time.”
McDonald comes into a good situation. The Communicator has won dozens of journalism awards since Sprengelmeyer took over, and he’s steadfastly refused to put any of his photos and stories on the internet (“The future of print is in print,” he’s repeatedly stated.). If you want to read about a story in the Communicator, you have to buy a newspaper. (Disclosure: I’ve been a subscriber for years.)
As for his plans, comments on Facebook indicated he’ll move from New Mexico sometime after the first of the year, then head east to visit all those family and friends he hadn’t seen in years. Outside of that, he’s publicly noncommittal, except for following his admittedly contrarian heart.
(Image of the Guadalupe County Communicator’s masthead from June)