CHAMPAIGN – One of two local newspapers in central Illinois’ Ford County will close down this fall. The publisher of the Ford County Record says the weekly paper will cease publication “within the next month or so.”
The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette bought the century-and-a-half-old Paxton Record in 2007, eventually renaming it the Ford County Record. When Community Media Group bought the News-Gazette in 2019, the Ford County Record came with it. But publisher Paul Barrett, who is in charge of CMG’s Champaign Multimedia Group, said the Record had been struggling in recent years, and they haven’t been able to improve its fortunes.
“That’s one at Paxton that we’ve just not been able to turn around and fix, to get support for,” said Barrett. “So that one, ultimately, will be folded into the News-Gazette as well.”
Community Media Group had earlier closed the Rantoul Press and the Mahomet Citizen in 2020. Those two weekly newspapers also came to CMG with the News-Gazette. Prior to the sale, the News-Gazette had closed down other weekly papers it owned: the St. Joseph Leader, the Tolono-based County Star and the LeRoy-Farmer City Press.
However, Barrett says another area weekly in the News-Gazette unit, the Piatt County Journal-Republican, is thriving and will continue.
The Ford County Record was founded as the Paxton Record in 1865 by N.E. Stevens, and the paper remained in the Stevens family until 1989. The Record also published a daily edition throughout the 20th century and up until 2007, just before it was acquired by the News-Gazette.
Barrett says the Ford County Record’s subscribers will be given the opportunity to move over to the News-Gazette, which will include Ford County in its regional coverage.
Meanwhile, Ford County has another, newer paper, the Ford County Chronicle, launched in 2020 by two former employees of the Record, news editor Will Brumleve and sports editor Andrew Rosten.
Brumleve says that while its closing might benefit the Chronicle, he’s sad to hear that the Record will be closing.
“I worked almost half my life at the Record,” said Brumleve, who joined the paper in 2003. “I started my journalism career at the Record, as just some rookie reporter out of the University of Illinois.”
Barrett says he does not blame competition from the Chronicle for the Ford County Record’s difficulties, and hopes the newer newspaper succeeds.