Last week marked the final editions of long-running Upper Cape publications, The Sandwich Broadsider and The Bourne Courier.
Initially locally owned and operated, these weekly newspapers were most recently owned by Gatehouse Media.
Their presence on the Upper Cape dates back to the 1970s.
In 1974, tired of seeing negative stories about the town in the regional newspaper, Sandwich residents William and Laurie Chase decided it was time to highlight the positive happenings about town.
And so they got to work on a newspaper of their own, starting what was then called The Village Broadsider in a makeshift office in their basement. The inspiration for the name of the publication was from colonial times when a broadsheet would be posted in a public area, so that locals could read the news.
“The Cape Cod Times at that time seemed to only print negative and controversial stories about Sandwich,” Mr. Chase said. “A lot of good things happened at that time, as still do, and they never got publicized, so that was probably one of the main reasons we started.”
The first edition of the paper, published on August 16 of that year, had residents lining up at their door, he said.
On the front page were stories about the construction of what is now Sandwich High School, the Thornton W. Burgess Centennial Celebration, and the appointment of Colonel George C. Campbell to the Sandwich Housing Authority.
A popular newspaper from the start, the Chases were able to move their operation into its own office space a year later, the building now occupied by Heart of Stone on Route 6A. Their small staff included Carol McManus, Jean Marie Hoxie and Barbara Russell Johnson, as well as many volunteers.
In addition to feature stories, the original newspaper was full of local interest information such as birthdays, anniversaries, wedding announcements, and local photographs that were submitted by residents.
“We did not do any politics, we did not do any editorials. At all,” Ms. Chase said. “It wasn’t our place.”
Ms. McManus said that when she started at the paper she was the editor, the primary writer, and handled photography, too.
She said that it was fun working for the paper in those days and that people would drop by the office with interesting stories for them to cover. It was the most fun she has ever had at a job, and she loved working for the Chases.
“It was a real town newspaper,” she said. “We were really proud of it.”
While she was sad to hear that the newspaper was ceasing publication after so many years, she said the Broadsider just has not, in recent years, been the same as it once was. Specifically, it was no longer strictly local in nature and had become too filled with advertisements, she said.
The Chases are proud of the work they had done, growing the Broadsider from eight pages to 40 during the years they owned it.
“It was an honor and privilege to have chronicled the history of Sandwich for the years that we owned and published the Village Broadsider,” they wrote in a letter to the Enterprise.
They ran the newspaper into the 1980s, but with four children, three of whom were teenage girls at the time, they were needed more at home. They sold the publication to Memorial Press Group, which was based out of Plymouth.
Paul Gately, a longtime reporter for The Bourne Courier, said that the Bourne publication had roots that stretch even further back than the Broadsider, all the way to the Korean War era. He reported for the paper in some capacity for nearly 46 years, he said.
He declined to discuss the publication or his work with the paper any further, referring all other questions to his former editors.
Ryan Bray, the former editor of the Upper Cape weeklies, said that the team he worked with was dedicated to providing people with locally focused news.
“We did a lot with a very small staff, and we were given the freedom to cover our towns the way saw fit,” he said. “I’m proud of that.”
Additional Gatehouse editors contacted for this story either did not return messages or would not provide comment this week.
But Bourne Selectman Peter J. Meier said that he is sorry to see the paper go.
He noted that for quite some time the Courier and the Broadsider, just like their sister papers The Falmouth Bulletin and The Mashpee Messenger, were free newspapers. Especially during a time when people are looking to save money where they can, having a free news option was important, he said.
All four of the weekly Upper Cape papers were bought and sold multiple times over the years after being picked up by Memorial Press. When they were owned by Fidelity’s Community Newspaper Company, the four papers were merged into a single publication called the Upper Cape Codder.
This paper ran from 1999 through 2007 before being split back up into individual town papers. The Mashpee Messenger was not renewed after the merger, and news for that town was folded into The Falmouth Bulletin.
The papers have been the property of Gatehouse since 2006 under the Wicked Local brand. Gatehouse also owns the Cape Cod Times.
Peter D. Meyer, the president and publisher of the Cape Cod Times, said that the decision to stop publishing the free-distribution Upper Cape weekly newspapers does not impact the distribution of the remaining subscriber-based papers the company runs on the Cape. Besides the Times, these include The Barnstable Patriot, The Register, The Cape Codder and The Provincetown Banner.