Updated Jan 24, 2023 - News

St. Cloud Times' newsroom loses lone reporter

Illustration of a crumbling newspaper

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

The sole reporter left at the St. Cloud Times is leaving the paper next month, raising questions about how the 93-year-old paper will continue operations with no on-the-ground, full-time editorial staff.

Catch up quick: The paper's parent company, Gannett, has laid off or bought out almost every journalist at the St. Cloud Times in the last six months. That's left a metro area of 200,000 without a well-resourced news organization.

  • Abdulla Gaafarelkhalifa, who confirmed to Axios that his last day at the paper is Feb. 1, was one of nine full-time editorial staffers when he was hired in May 2022.
  • By January, he was the only one left.

Yes, but: Gaafarelkhalifa and former Times reporter Stephanie Dickrell are joining St. Cloud Live, a new daily online publication launching next month by Midwest media company Forum Communications.

  • The free website and weekly newsletter will cover St. Cloud news, weather, sports and more, with the possibility for occasional print publications later, Forum's chief content officer Mary Jo Hotzler told Axios Tuesday via email.

Between the lines: St. Cloud had been on Forum's radar, but plans for a new outlet "accelerated during the second half of 2022," Hotzler said. Gannett began cutting St. Cloud Times staff in August.

What we're watching: It's unclear how the St. Cloud Times will continue to operate. Right now, the paper mainly publishes wire stories from Minnesota and national outlets, Gaafarelkhalifa's reporting and opinion pieces.

What's next: St. Cloud Live will launch in February with the two staff reporters and several contributors, with plans to hire more.

  • Hotzler didn't specify how the outlet would be funded, stating Forum invested because it believes in community journalism.

Of note: Axios asked Gannett how it plans to operate a daily news organization without dedicated reporters.

  • "We remain committed to providing resources to our newsroom by actively recruiting for editorial positions and relying on our USA TODAY Network to ensure continued coverage," a company spokesperson wrote in an email.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Gannett and a roundup of St. Cloud Times' job openings.

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