As of Oct. 1, Northern News Services Limited (NNSL) became the owner of The Hub, the town’s community newspaper.
The Hub is now part of NNSL’s group of newspapers, which includes News/North, The Yellowknifer, Deh Cho Drum, Inuvik Drum, Kivalliq News in Rankin Inlet and Nunavut News/North.
NNSL general manager Mike Scott, who co-owns the company with J.W. (Sig) Sigvaldason, describes the purchase as an opportunity for both NNSL and The Hub.
“It’s a natural fit for us and it gives us a chance to expand our organization into the South Mackenzie more than we already have,” he said, noting The Hub has been an award-winning, quality news product for years.
Scott, who is originally from Hay River, said he is working for a seamless change to new ownership at The Hub.
For instance, all employees of The Hub have been hired by the new ownership.
Scott said the newspaper has capable leadership, including on the editorial side.
“As far as changes in the publication, it’s a little premature to say what we’re going to change or how we’re going to change it,” he said.
“I would like to see us expand our operations down here to include more production facilities, but one step at a time.”
Scott said there will be no cutbacks at The Hub.
“If anything it will help us expand,” he said. “I think Hay River is a really great place to do business. It’s more affordable than any other community in the North. It’s got the road and the rail link to the South. I expect to see Northern News Services and our sister company, Canarctic Graphics, expand down here.”
The Hub will be printed in the North once again. The NNSL general manager added there will be no name change for the publication.
“The Hub is The Hub,” he said.
Scott also sees a positive impact on News/North.
“We’ll have a stronger base in Hay River,” he said of the territorial newspaper. “We’ll actually have an office again that people can drop into, which will be nice.”
Chris Brodeur, now the former publisher of The Hub, has stepped away from the newspaper after 36 years as owner.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” he said. “The newspaper industry is a pretty fun industry. You meet a lot of interesting people. There’s never a dull moment.”
Brodeur said he suggested the sale because he has been living in the South for some time, although he still owns a house in Hay River.
“The community here needs somebody a little more hands-on, somebody who’s in the North and aware of the issues, and involved,” he said. “After some time living away from here, you’re just not really current anymore. In some ways, it wasn’t fair to the community not to bring the ownership closer to the North.”
Brodeur said he and Scott have been talking about the sale for about two years and the discussions have been serious over the last year.
The former publisher is confident NNSL will do well with The Hub.
However, he admitted it is a bit difficult to sell to another company that has been a friendly business rival for so many years.
“So to finally give in to the competitor is a bit tough, but on the other hand it really is a natural fit,” he said.
No financial details of the purchase were released by Scott or Brodeur.
“Mike thinks he paid too much and I think he paid too little,” quipped the former publisher.
The Hub was founded in 1973 by Pat and Harry Engbers and bought by Brodeur in 1975.