Weekly newspaper, Wibaux Pioneer Gazette, still going strong after 115 years

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 2:35 PM CST
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WIBAUX, MONT. (KFYR) – Years ago, everyone started their day by reading the newspaper.

Over the years, newspapers have started to die. As readers turn to digital sources, newspaper circulation has dropped. Many small-town weekly papers are no longer published.

But there is good news.

In one small Montana community, the weekly newspaper is still being printed every week and is still a source of news nearly 600 subscribers depend on.

Carmen Hahn never thought she’d be a newspaper reporter.

“I’m not a journalist. I’m not a writer,” she insisted.

Not only is she a reporter for the Wibaux Pioneer Gazette, but she’s also the photographer, graphic designer, editor, publisher and owner. Her faithful dog, Holly, keeps her company in the newsroom.

“I kind of stumbled into this when everyone in the office got COVID last year,” Hahn recalled.

The Wibaux Pioneer Gazette has been printed every week since 1907, never missing a deadline. Sandy Knight couldn’t bear the idea of missing a week.

“I just said, ‘Carmen, we’ve got to put the paper out,’” said Knight.

“That’s how I got here,” said Hahn with a laugh.

In December 2021, Hahn purchased the paper. She relies on old copies of the Wibaux Pioneer Gazette for inspiration. Hahn pulls old news stories and reprints snippets in each new issue. Those glimpses into the past and the sports section are her readers’ favorites.

Each week, Hahn and a group of volunteers fold, label and mail the paper to nearly 600 subscribers. About half of them are in the Wibaux area; the other half are spread out across the country.

“They look forward to good or bad, they’re ready to read it and make their comments or complaints,” said Knight, who helps Hahn with invoicing and other bookwork.

“I’ve received so many letters, so many cards, compliments and I have only received two negative ones. So, I think I’m doing okay,” said Hahn.

Those kind words motivate Hahn on the hard days and inspire her to keep delivering news to the faithful readers of the Wibaux Pioneer Gazette.

“I’ve been very blessed,” she said.

Hahn grew up in Glasgow and spent her summers with her grandparents in Beach, N.D.

She moved away after high school and spent 30 years working as a graphic designer in California. That graphic design experience has been vital in keeping the paper in print and she hopes it will help her take the Wibaux Pioneer Gazette online in the future.