‘Ready to let it go’: Fort Smith’s Northern Journal up for sale

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After almost 40 years, the owners of the Northern Journal have put the newspaper up for sale. 

Don Jaque owns the weekly paper alongside his wife, Sandra. It was established by Jaque himself in 1977.

As of 2013, The Northern Journal – based out of Fort Smith – has had a circulation of 4,000.

“My wife and I are in our mid-sixties and my wife has wanted to retire for a while now,” said Don Jaque.

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“Part of my long-term plan was to take the newspaper to a territorial level, to make it into a territorial newspaper, which I have done over the last five years.

“I’m at a stage now where I guess I’m ready to let it go. I’ve done this for 40 years so it’s time to take a break.”

Jaque told Moose FM he never expected the newspaper to last four decades.

At the onset, the Northern Journal told stories in Fort Smith and the NWT’s South Slave region, eventually covering Wood Buffalo, Fort Chipewyan and Fort McMurray in Alberta as well.

More recently, the paper has become more territorially-focused while still operating out of Fort Smith.

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Jaque has even flirted with the idea of having reporters and sales staff located in Yellowknife and expanding the newspaper’s presence at Aurora College campuses.

As he tries to find prospective buyers, Jaque says there’s been some interest already. But at least one thing is certain: he’d like for the paper to remain in Fort Smith,

“Print media everywhere is in a state of flux as so many things are,” he said.

“We’re an independent and there are not very many independent newspapers left out there so we’re actually a rare commodity.

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“We have a strength in the South Slave. The South Slave is where our roots are so having at least a component of the paper in Fort Smith is an essential part of the model I think.”

What’s next for Jaque himself? He says he’s not ready to give up writing just yet.

“It’s very likely that I’ll continue to work and I don’t mind that,” he said. “That’s part of my character.

“I’ve developed a lot of skills in this operation over the years and I will continue to write stories and take pictures.”

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