Stan R. Mitchell, editor and publisher of the Oak Ridge Observer, announced Wednesday that the weekly newspaper will close after more than nine years in business.
In a note posted on the Observer’s website, Mitchell did not elaborate on the reason for the closure.
“We could just never get the paper where it needed to be,” he said.
“I”m going to avoid getting into all the gritty details and talking about unforeseen circumstances, but it is what it is,” Mitchell wrote on his blog. “The bottom line is this: We couldn’t keep it going any longer, and yet thankfully those circumstances coincided with the serious doubts we’ve had the past year and a half.”
Mitchell, 36, started the Observer in December 2004 when he was 27. He said he and his wife Danah have sacrificed heavily pursuing their dream, working for low wages, skipping vacations, and sacrificing many comforts.
“My wife and I—as well as too many supporters, investors, and businesses to name—wanted this to work out more than anything in the world, and we gave all we could in pursuit of this dream,” Mitchell said. “But ultimately, we fell short, and we refuse to make excuses or cast blame for it not working out. We apologize to our strong supporters and faithful fans, who shared the same vision as we did.”
Besides being a newspaper editor and publisher, Mitchell is also an action fiction writer and former reporter at The Oak Ridger. He helped start the Young Professionals of Oak Ridge, serving as its first president, and he was honored with the prestigious Postma Young Professional Medal in 2009.
Mitchell graduated from Fulton High School in 1995, and he has a degree in communications studies from the University of Tennessee. He is also a former squad leader in the U.S. Marines. His books, which include “Sold Out” and “Little Man,” are available at local stores including Mr. K’s.
In the explanation posted on the Observer’s website, Mitchell asked readers to focus on the positive.
“We hope you will remember the good things that we have done, and not the times we erred or fell short or wrote something too harsh or judgmental,” he said. “We, as well, will do our best to remember the good times…the stories we broke, the compliments we received, the progress we hope we helped create.
“And we will endeavor to not grow bitter at how it ended, and to not be angry that things didn’t work out as we had hoped. Instead, we will reflect on our victories, those days when we served the community with utter bliss, doing what we loved.”
He also encouraged readers to support small businesses and thanked those who have supported the Oak Ridge Observer, which published each Thursday, during the past nine years.
“We hope the community will take note and learn from our closing, which we’re hearing has stunned many who thought we were financially sound,” Mitchell said. “Let our fate be a lesson on how vulnerable small businesses truly are. Small business owners face nearly impossible odds, and we urge our readers and elected officials to do all that you can to support and encourage them.”
In a follow-up conversation, Mitchell said he and Danah aren’t ready to publicly elaborate on the closing of their business, but they’re excited about the future.
“It has been our greatest honor to serve you, the people of Oak Ridge and Anderson County,” Mitchell said.