Local business creates print news startup ‘The Aberdeen Insider’

While some print newsrooms are shrinking, a new source of daily news has launched in the Hub City.
Published: Feb. 14, 2023 at 7:39 PM CST
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ABERDEEN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - While some print newsrooms are shrinking, a new source of daily news has launched in the Hub City.

Troy McQuillen, who owns McQuillen Creative Group, saw the demand for an Aberdeen-focused news source grow after he began publishing the bi-monthly Aberdeen Magazine.

“There’s so much happening here. Just in publishing the bi-monthly magazine, we had no problem filling 84 pages every other month. There’s just so much content, so many stories, and that’s just of what’s happening. There’s stories we can go out and find like a rising athlete, an amazing artist that’s emerging, a little band that needs some coverage, some new businesses starting up,” said McQuillen.

After multiple rounds of layoffs and buyouts from Gannett, the parent company of South Dakota newspapers such as the Argus Leader and the Aberdeen News, print journalism coverage has been declining in some areas of the state.

McQuillen, however, didn’t want to see Aberdeen lose its coverage. In January, McQuillen and his team at MCG launched the Aberdeen Insider.

”The options we had were dwindling in terms of local news coverage. I knew there were good, seasoned newspaper people around town that I wanted to talk to to see if they’d be interested in joining a new venture,” said McQuillen.

One of those seasoned journalists includes Elisa Sand, who has covered news in Aberdeen for nearly a decade. Sand joined the Aberdeen Insider team just before its launch in January.

”Coming to the Insider was probably the easiest decision, because it just meant a whole lot more freedom in being able to curate the news as it was happening without anybody putting any restrictions on how to present it or what we can and cannot do,” said Sand.

Managing Editor Scott Waltman, who also has many years of experience in Aberdeen news coverage, said having a locally-owned news source allows for content specific to the Hub City.

”What we have is local ownership, and that means local buy-in in Aberdeen and the surrounding communities. We’re very Aberdeen-focused, but we’ve lost some of that with our news here in recent years it feels like. Now, we get the chance to return that to the people who want it, and I know the desire is strong,” said Waltman.

Having locally-grown journalists is a key part of McQuillen’s vision to bring more coverage back to Aberdeen.

”That’s kind of the history of news coverage is just local people reporting on what’s happening in their own neighborhoods. We tell stories in Aberdeen that back in the day, there was seven competing papers back in Aberdeen’s heydays,” said McQuillen.

So far, it’s been a success.

“I was surprised when we launched the subscriptions that the online subscriptions took off. We’ve sold over 300 subscriptions. About 25% of those are requesting the print one to be mailed to them. So, there is a small demand, and I anticipate that to grow,” said McQuillen.

McQuillen said he anticipates the first print editions of the Aberdeen Insider to be launched on April 6th. As a locally-owned news source, the sky is the limit for the future.

”As an independent newspaper, not controlled or overseen by anybody, we have the flexibility to do anything we want. I just want to make sure, as a long-time Aberdeen resident, that we reflect the vibe and the coolness and all the great things that are happening in Aberdeen as well as things that need to covered and stories told as well,” said McQuillen.