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The Wood River Journal will live to publish another day.

A group of Sun Valley investors joined forces with the Idaho Falls Post Register to buy the paper from Iowa-based Lee Enterprises for an undisclosed price, bringing the paper back under local ownership. The sale will be final on May 1.

The deal almost didn't happen though.

John Sofro, a Sun Valley-based real estate developer, learned that the Journal was for sale in January and began trying to assemble a group of local investors to buy the paper.

"We all came to the conclusion that in order to make this really work, we needed to have someone who understood the publishing business," Sofro told BW.

Enter Jerry Brady, owner of the Post Register and former candidate for governor.

Sofro approached Brady with the offer, but at first, Brady wasn't interested.

"[This is] a difficult time in the economy," Brady said. "It's rare to have two newspapers in a county of 20,000. The only reason it might work is that it's this particular county."

Blaine County has a higher median income than the majority of the state, and retail sales have remained high in the tourist stronghold.

"It's still a big market," he said. "It's a unique place."

The Post Register already owns three other weekly papers, in Challis, Rigby and Shelley.

In a time when newspapers across the country are laying off staff and looking for ways to cut costs, Brady said this is the first time he's heard of a group of residents rallying to keep two competing papers in town.

"People are looking for new models in which rich people keep journalism alive," he said. "That's not a great hope. It has to be a business. It has to be rooted in each community."

Under the partnership, the Post Register will take over management of the Journal, while creating a broad editorial board made up not only of investors, but a cross-section of community members.

They will begin a search for a new publisher/editor to take over daily operations, but in the meantime, it will be run by Margaret Wimborne, who manages the Register's other weeklies.

Other changes will be introduced incrementally, starting with the unveiling of a new masthead on May 7.

"We're trying to apply our standard of journalism to the paper by making it more focused, a little tighter," Brady said. "[We want to] give it a little more of a personality.

"[We] see this as a kind of spunkier, younger paper over time. It's not your grandpa's Oldsmobile," said Brady, 72.

He said the Journal will continue to function independently within the community.

"This is a unique place," he said. "There's no way you could direct it from Idaho Falls."

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