Eight months ago, Mr. Sprengelmeyer, 42, worked as the sole Washington correspondent forThe Rocky Mountain News, the Denver newspaper that went out of business in February, but his job these days is a far cry from the Senate press gallery.
August, he embarked on a new life in this isolated little town as
owner, publisher, editor, primary writer and sometime ad salesman,
photographer and deliverer of the weekly Guadalupe County Communicator,
circulation about 2,000.
“I covered the war in Iraq and the
presidential campaign, and I knew I was never going to top that, even
if I found another reporting job,” he said, sitting on a battered chair
in his single-story storefront space. “I just wanted a completely new
Of the thousands of paths taken by journalists who
have been cast off by shrinking metropolitan newspapers, Mr.
Sprengelmeyer’s is one of the more unusual, and one of the more
hopeful. While bringing some big-city professionalism to a distinctly
small-time operation, he says he is making enough money to support
himself, and he has been able to assign some freelance work to a few
underemployed former colleagues.
Sales of The Communicator are up, in part because of eight sidewalk
boxes that Mr. Sprengelmeyer bought from The Rocky and posted around
Santa Rosa. He will not say how much money the paper makes, but says it
is more than enough to support him, and he has visions of expanding to
two days a week.
“If a house burns down, everybody here knows it,
saw it, knew the people, probably hugged them, but they still want to
read about it in a paper that comes out four days later,” he said.