POLK COUNTY — Eagle Newspapers Inc. has sold the Polk County Itemizer-Observer to longtime newspaperman Scott Olson.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Olson said he and his wife, Jeanne, are grateful to carry on the legacy.
“Community newspapers are extremely important for the communities they serve,” Olson said. “In the case of the Polk County Itemizer-Observer, it has been serving the residents of Polk County for 145 years, and I’m in awe of the historical significance it has had in Dallas and the Polk County area. Eagle Newspapers has provided us a wonderful opportunity to continue being the local news source for the area.”
Eagle owner Denny Smith said it was important to him that the newspaper continued running under the leadership of someone like Olson.
“Scott is the right person for Polk County,” Smith said. “Newspapers have gone through a lot of change in the past 20 years. I hope people realize how valuable a local newspaper is to a community.”
With the financial pressures felt by local businesses throughout the county — and at the Itemizer — the news last week was that April 1 may be the last issue of the paper that has served Polk County since 1875. Olson worked with Eagle to keep the paper printing.
“As our communities work their way through COVID-19, local news organizations will continue to play a vital role in providing factual and timely information,” Smith said. “Scott understands this role.”
Eagle President Joe Petshow said now, more than ever, communities need independent newspapers— in print and online — that are both stewards and watchdogs.
“Loyal readers and advertisers have enabled the IO to be successful over many years,” he said. “That isn’t the case anymore in many communities throughout the United States, and world, for that matter, where newspapers have shut down.”
The Itemizer-Observer dodged a bullet through Olson taking ownership. As the news spread through town that the IO may be closing, letters of support and notes of encouragement channeled in through email, text and personal messages to the staff.
“Newspapers can be the social fabric of a community,” Petshow said. “Longtime residents likely have read their names or had their photo published in the newspaper for one reason or another. Maybe they’ve read sports stories about their children or grandchildren. Or perhaps it was a story about the honor roll or school play. Those connections are part of what makes local newspapers unique, including how they can bind together a community.”
The staff at the Itemizer-Observer is grateful to local readers and businesses for the show of support as they continue to publish local news stories, obituaries, announcements and sports.
Subscribe today by calling 503-623-2373, or online at polkio.com.