April 12, 2017 Last Updated 3:32 pm

Another small newspaper chain goes under, this time a weekly chain in Northern Ireland

The Observer Newspapers Group, based in Dungannon, have printed their last weekly newspaper editions, citing a ‘steady decline in advertising and readership over recent years’

Last week I wrote that “big newspapers get noticed when there are layoffs, the small one simply slip away, never to return” – a story that was picked up by a few other outlets and seemed to resonate. Unfortunately, there continues to be more examples of that truth.

Today, the Observer Newspapers Group, the Northern Ireland based publisher of the Dungannon Observer, Mid-Ulster Observer, Armagh Observer, and other weeklies, are shuttering their papers. Published since 1930, the papers were definitely small, but once sold 10,000 copies a week, according to The Irish News.

The papers published its sad notice today that read:

The management of Observer Newspapers NI Ltd regret to announce 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.

The papers have been owned by the Mallon family for the paper’s entire history.

“Everyone at the Tyrone Times and Mid Ulster Mail was very saddened to hear this news, and our thoughts are with journalistic colleagues who have been affected,” wrote Shauna Corr of the Mid-Ulster Mail, a Johnston Publishing Ltd newspaper.

One trait many of these smaller papers seem to share in common is a lack of web presence. Search as I might, I could not find a working website. Even the company’s Facebook pages appears to have disappeared, though a Google cache version seems to show it was last updated in September of last year.

If there is one area that trade associations that work with small newspapers could concentrate, it might be in teaching otherwise print-oriented publishers the skills necessary to build websites and applications – not the complex CMS heavy solutions favored by vendors, but simple solutions.

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