Whitehorse Star newspaper to cease publication after 124 years covering Yukon

By Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

The Whitehorse Star newspaper in Yukon is closing after 124 years.

The newspaper’s front page on Friday announced that its last publication day will be May 17.

An online article says the paper’s owners had been working with a small group of local residents interested in buying the business, but terms could not be finalized.

Editor Jim Butler said in an interview Friday that the staff of 12 learned of the closure in a meeting that morning with the paper’s owners.

“It’s very difficult to see an institution that published for 124 consecutive years, announce its demise. (It’s) very, very sad for the community and for people who are suddenly out of work,” he said.

The article says the paper is no longer feasible because of “several overwhelming factors persistently working against us” including a decline in circulation and more clients shifting advertising to social media.

The Whitehorse Star is one of Canada’s few independently owned newspapers and has been in Yukon since 1900, sometimes publishing daily or three times a week.

Butler said that in its more than a century of publishing, the paper has covered significant historical events including the construction of the Alaska Highway and the moving of the territorial capital from Dawson City to Whitehorse in 1953.

There was also the story of Helen Klaben, who survived in the wilderness for more than six weeks after a plane crash, and the time Robert Kennedy climbed Mount Kennedy in 1965.

Butler said he believes it “weakens the ideal of democracy in a community” when a media voice is lost, even if others remain.

“A newspaper that’s been around so long, it kind of sews itself into the history and fabric of a community,” Butler said.

“Not all remaining media outlets will necessarily cover city hall exhaustively or Yukon government debates, territorial budgets, or take photos of collisions and or young performers at the Arts Centre or at school.”

The article announcing the paper’s closure signs off with the newspaper’s motto, “Illegitimus non carborundum,” a mock Latin phrase meaning “don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

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