Eleven newspapers are set to close after their family-owned parent company announced it was ceasing trading.
Observer Newspapers, which runs a series of titles in Northern Ireland, has announced its closure due to what it described as a “steady decline in advertising and readership.”
It is understood staff were told of the closure on Monday. It is not yet known how many jobs are affected.
The Observer series is based in the town of Dungannon, County Tyrone, and is owned by the Mallon family. Its newspapers circulate across seven counties in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Titles closing as a result of the announcement are the Armagh Observer, Armagh-Down Observer, Ballymena Chronicle, Dundalk Advertiser, Dungannon Observer, Fermanagh News, Lurgan and Portadown Examiner, Mid-Ulster Observer, Newry Advertiser, The Democrat and Ulster Farmer.
A statement from Observer Newspapers, which featured on the front page of this week’s Armagh Observer, reads: “The management of Observer Newspapers NI Ltd regret to announced that this is the final edition of this weekly newspaper.
“The newspaper industry has been subject to a steady decline in advertising and readership over recent years.
“In these challenging circumstances Observer Newspapers has struggled to sustain long-term sustainability. We regret that this has led to a decision to cease publication.
“We wish to sincerely thank our readers and advertisers for their support down through the years.”
Armagh Observer editor Joe McManus had worked at the paper for more than 50 years, running it virtually singlehandedly from its office in the town.
He told the BBC: “The boss told me it was closing and it’s taken a few days before that’s sunk in – it’s the end of a very long era,
“It was my life and I never looked on it as a job. I saw myself more as a servant of the public than a journalist, and I’ve shared in people’s joys and sorrows.”
“The Armagh Observer was looked upon as a nationalist paper, and few Protestants would’ve bought it but they had great respect for it. During the Troubles we always took a cross-community direction – we hung our hat on that, we were there to serve.”