Walkout suddenly gives Butler rival newspapers - KCTV5

Walkout suddenly gives Butler rival newspapers

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BUTLER, Mo. (AP) -

The weekly newspaper in the 4,200-resident Missouri city of Butler suddenly has a newrival, and its new rival are quite familiar with that established publication.

The five editorial members of the longtime The News Xpress in Butler, south of Kansas City, finished putting out the paper on Feb. 9, then promptly turned in their resignations and launched the competing newspaper, The Messenger, just doors away, the Kansas City Star reported.

Days later, the defectors put out their first 16-page edition of The Messenger.

The specific reasons of the walkout aren't clear, though at least one worker who participated suggested a change in recent years in The News Xpress's ownership was a factor.

Lee Anna Schowengerdt has been affiliated with the News Xpress since she was 13 and has served as the company's graphic designer for the past two decades. She worked at the newspaper with her mother, who had been there for 33 years and served as the company's office manager.

Both originally worked for Jim and Carol Peters, who first published the Xchanger in 1978 before expanding in 1984 with the News Xpress. When Jim Peters died in October 2012 and left the paper in the hands of son Jon Peters, the Schowengerdts said they thought the working relationship suffered.

"I loved his mother and dad. I learned a lot of from them. They did everything for me," Lee Anna Schowengerdt said. "But . it changed."

Schowengerdt said that when she asked Peters last year whether he might be willing to sell The News Xpress and Xchanger papers, she was quoted a price of $1.8 million. In joining financial forces with her business and life partner, Schowengerdt spent less than $250,000 on a 126-year-old weekly, The Adrian Journal, along with that newspaper's building and its sister paper, The Drexel Star.

The rest of the News Xpress' staff — a reporter-photographer, business manager and accounting manager — joined in the defection. Schowengerdt's mother was named editor.

The Messenger's first edition went out to subscribers on Feb. 13.

The walkout left the News Express with no one to put out the company's two weekly shoppers, given that the same staff produced all three publications.

"All of our women up front, they bought a new paper and they opened one next door and they're trying to run us out of town," Chase Peters, Jon Peters' son, lamented as he and family scrambled to put out a paper with no staff.

"I don't need sympathy," Jon Peters added. "I need labor. I need layout. I need workers."

He waved off discussing anything to do with reasons for his staff's departure.

"I have a deadline," he said.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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