The Daily Herald announced Feb. 5 that it will discontinue publication of five weekly newspapers it owns in Orem and northern Utah County after the Feb. 19 issue.
The newspapers, which are published on Thursdays and delivered by U.S. Mail, include the American Fork Citizen, Pleasant Grove Review, Lehi Free Press, Lone Peak Press and Orem Times.
No employees will be laid off as a result of the decision. Local news reporters will continue to cover North County towns, schools, people and businesses, but their articles will appear in the pages of the Daily Herald.
In addition, the company will introduce innovative online tools for the people of North County to connect them more closely to their communities. A series of Web sites -- each focused narrowly on a particular town -- will present news from all local schools, community groups, churches and local governments, and will feature a social marketplace with discussion forums highlighting local people and issues.
The consolidation of printed information from the weeklies into the Daily Herald is part of an ongoing strategy to strengthen the company's core daily product while reducing costs associated with production and mailing numerous small titles, said Herald president and publisher Rona Rahlf.
"This will greatly simplify our sales programs as well as strengthen the local news identity of the Herald," Rahlf said. "Rather than breaking up news and advertising across several papers, everything will be in one place."
Advertisers will benefit from greater audience reach than they currently have in the North County weeklies, she said.
Combined circulation of the five weeklies is about 5,800, but about one-third of those subscribers also subscribe to the Daily Herald, which means redundant costs in newsprint, handling and mailing, Rahlf said.
The company will continue to mail advertising to all non-subscribing households in Utah Valley through Savvy Shopper Deals (formerly known as Central Utah Quality Buys).
Other weekly newspapers owned by the Herald -- in Springville, Spanish Fork, Payson and Sanpete County -- are not affected by the announcement.
The Herald purchased the North County weeklies in 1999 from Brett Bezzant of Pleasant Grove. At the time, the newspaper group was known as New Utah. That purchase was followed by the purchase of the Orem Geneva Times in 2000. The paper was renamed Orem Times in 2007.