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After almost 50 years of independent publishing, Northern News Services Limited (NNSL Media)’s six newspapers will soon be under Black Press Media’s ownership.  

After months of negotiations, Black’s purchase of NNSL and its printing subsidiary, Canarctic Graphics, will close April 1.

A B.C.-based publisher, Black operates more than 170 community newspapers and news sites across Canada, as well as Hawaii, Alaska and Washington State. 

News of NNSL/Black Press negotiations surfaced last month though no agreement to purchase had yet been reached.

Employees of Canarctic Graphics and NNSL Media gathered in the Yellowknife newsroom March 11 to hear about the purchase of the companies by Black Press Media, which closes at the end of the month. Craig Gilbert/NNSL photo

“I don’t expect that there will be any change whatsoever beyond what we’ve always done, which is report the news and express our opinions about what’s going on locally,” NNSL Media publisher and CEO Bruce Valpy said after addressing the companies’ employees.

Owing to the public health limits brought on by the pandemic, Black purchased NNSL without a site visit, a new experience for the publisher.

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Karen Sigvaldason is president of NNSL and Canarctic and the daughter of founder Jack “Sig” Sigvaldason, who passed in 2018.

“My father, Sig, believed passionately in the strong role of NNSL and Canarctic in serving the people of the North,” she said. “I am confident that Black Press Media will continue that tradition.” 

Included in the deal are NNSL’s two weekly Yellowknifer newspapers, Nunavut News, Kivalliq News, the Hay River Hub, Inuvik Drum, News/North and the NNSL.com and Nunavutnews.com websites. 

Black Press Media president and CEO Rick O’Connor said the group has had a favourable experience with community papers in Canada’s North following their 2013 purchase of Whitehorse based Yukon News.

“We look forward to supporting these newspapers, their associated digital operations and printing plant as we move forward out of the pandemic,” O’Connor said. “These papers and digital platforms provide an extremely valuable service across the North.”

Jack Sigvaldason launched the Yellowknifer newspaper in 1972 after being fired from News of the North, the now 75-year-old weekly paper servicing the territory. Starting the Yellowknifer from his kitchen, Sig later bought the paper that fired him in 1979 and acquired Canarctic Graphics 10 years later. 

While Valpy emphasized that the editorial focus won’t be changing with the new ownership, he said that NNSL would be able to offer a larger market to advertisers under Black Press’s improved digital capabilities. 

“It’s a digital world out there. People love reading newspapers, but they also like going on their phones, tablets, and home computers,” he said. “We’ll be in all of those places, with more muscle.”

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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