127-year-old SWMI newspaper saved from extinction, to resume printing


After 127 years in circulation, a small southwest Michigan newspaper announced it was closing its doors last week. Then, at the 11th hour, another southwest Michigan-based newspaper group swooped in and saved the day.

Mike Wilcox, owner of the Allegan-based Wilcox Newspapers, has purchased the Three Rivers Commercial-News in Three Rivers, and will resume production of the newspaper starting this Friday, Dec. 16.

Wilcox is the owner of several local newspapers in rural areas, such as the Allegan County News, Union Enterprise and The Courier-Leader/Paw Paw Flashes. His company also owns newspapers in Clare, Mich. and Lafayette, Ala.

“I’ve purchased other newspapers in the past that were headed for extinction,” Wilcox said. “I just feel that it would be a darn shame if any community newspaper went out of business, and since I have the infrastructure to make them work, it only makes sense that I step in and try to save them.”

The Three Rivers Commercial-News will be switching from a bi-weekly publication to once a week on Fridays, which Wilcox said is a more sustainable route.

“Without the local newspaper, residents are not going to get information on what is happening in locally in their government, at their schools, in their churches,” Wilcox said. “We provide all of that information.”

Wilcox said he has been amazed at the outpouring of gratitude from the Three Rivers community as well. The Facebook post announcing the paper has been saved has 99 comments from excited residents as of Tuesday, and more than 100 shares.

“We’ve gotten a lot of Facebook messages, a lot of people calling up and just saying ‘thank you,’” he said. “I can’t believe it.”

News Director Robert Tomlinson will return to his former position, and Wilcox said the office will remain at 124 N. Main Street in Three Rivers, with the same hours and same phone number.

Former subscribers with a subscription valid after Dec. 11 will automatically have their subscriptions reinstated, and as compensation for fewer publishing days, their subscriptions will be extended for one year, free of charge.

“I think I know how to make a newspaper work, even a printed paper,” said Wilcox, in an article on the Commercial-News website. “I still believe the Three Rivers community is very viable.”

(Image via Facebook)

By Ryan Yuenger