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Park Record publisher oversees another change of hands

Andy Bernhard has been at the helm of the Park Record since 1987. He says the recent sale of the paper doesn’t mean big changes are coming.

In Andy Bernhard’s 35-year career as vice president and publisher of the Park Record, he’s seen the paper change hands five times now. He said this week’s announcement that parent company Swift Communications had sold its media holdings to West Virginia-based Ogden newspapers wasn’t exactly on his radar but makes a certain sense.

“It was a bit of a surprise. I had thought, you know, there was some potential for Ogden Newspapers to buy the Park Record just based on their proximity and geographic footprint in Utah. So I always thought, you know, it made sense that if Ogden was going to buy something, it would just be the Park Record. I was frankly a bit surprised that they bought the entire company.”

Bernhard said “of course” the print Park Record will continue to be published Wednesdays and Saturdays. The paper is already printed at the Ogden Standard Examiner facility. And he said readers shouldn’t expect any changes to content or staffing.

“We will begin to transition into a new operating environment. How that all happens, and at what pace that takes place, I don't know. But in terms of The Park Record, nothing will change from the readers’ perspective,” Bernhard said.

The changes will be to financial systems, production logistics, software and circulation platforms as the newspaper transitions to Ogden Newspapers, which already owns the Ogden Standard Examiner and the Provo Daily Herald. It also owns periodicals in 17 other states.

The Park Record has a circulation of 5,000 in addition to web traffic in the neighborhood of around a half million page views a month, a third of which are unique visits.

Finance-wise, he said the paper’s budget won’t grow unless retail advertising returns to previous levels. The sale of digital products has helped fill the void left by declining retail advertising.

Bernhard said the paper hasn’t had a paywall in the past, though it did have a registration requirement before COVID. But he said a paywall sometime in the future would make sound financial sense.

“I still believe a paywall would be something that would be well-accepted in the local community as well as the non-resident property owner community. I think that that is revenue that we are leaving on the table and I think that one day it might very well happen.”

The Park Record was founded in 1880. Its sale was unrelated to the pandemic, Bernhard said, and more an outcome of consolidation, which the industry has seen increasingly in recent years. He added that he’s excited to see it continue under Ogden’s ownership, and he intends to stay put and help carry the paper through yet another transition.