The Lakeville Journal printed its first issue in 1897 to serve a community supported by small farms and a dying iron industry. Half a century and two ownership changes later, it emerged in the late 1940s as financial and journalistic success, receiving local and statewide recognition for its news coverage.
The paper, a weekly, grew in ambition and sophistication during the 1970s under the ownership of Robert H. Estabrook, a former correspondent and editor at the Washington Post. It won national awards for its coverage.
1990’s & Beyond
But journalistic distinction was no match for the economic disruptions caused by the arrival of the internet and the collapse of newspaper advertising beginning in the 1990s. Owners A. Whitney Ellsworth and William E. Little rejected takeover offers from large newspaper corporations in an effort to maintain the independence of the Lakeville Journal and the Millerton News, but were forced to sell their building and printing presses, cut staff and close unprofitable ventures. Readers kept the papers alive during the Covid-19 pandemic with more than $200,000 in individual donations, and it survives as one of the oldest weekly newspapers in New England.
A New Era
In 2021, the shareholders transferred ownership to the newly formed Lakeville Journal Foundation, which was given its 501(c)(3) nonprofit status by the Internal Revenue Service late that year. That allows The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News, acquired by the Lakeville Journal’s owners in 1972, to remain among the very few independent, locally owned and operated newspapers in either state.