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Oklahoma Newspaper Closes After 110 Years

Posted at 7:03 PM, Feb 24, 2020

TULSA, Okla. — There use to be one on every corner. You'd put money in it, grab the handle, and off you go. Not an electric scooter, but a newspaper box.

Long before there was cable TV or news apps, the paper was how most people got their daily news, especially in small towns.

In recent years, many newspapers have been forced to close. The effect is known as a "news desert", a small community no longer covered by a local paper.

For some, the newspaper is their only source of news. According to a 2018 University of North Carolina study, there were 1,300 news deserts across the country,

For small towns here in Oklahoma, that could mean thousands of people with no knowledge of local or national news.

The Morris News has been publishing newspapers since 1910. It has been family owned by the Thompson family since 1984.

Barry Thompson's entire life revolved around keeping the people of Morris, Oklahoma informed.

"Our reporter would do the school board meeting, the football and basketball and baseball games," Thompson said.

The paper also covered local politics and crime as well as any chance to cover a big celebrity from the area, like Tate Steinsiek from the SYFY show "Face Off."

As the years passed and a newer generation wanting their news in the palm of their hands, Thompson found it hard to compete.

"I'm smart enough to be able to build computers, put them together and make them work, but I would have to go pay someone to build a news app for the paper to use or even to put a website together," Thompson said.

Along with the cost of advertising just to keep the paper afloat, Thompson was forced to print his final edition of The Morris News on Jan. 23 of this year.

After 30 plus years of certainty, Thompson's future is now unknown.

"It's strange not being able to get up in the morning and go to work. It wasn't just a job. It was something I like to do," Thompson said.

Thompson hopes someone will buy the rights to the paper like his dad did almost 40 years ago and takes The Morris News into the age of digital.

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