PROVO — Three south Utah County newspapers owned by the Daily Herald — including one founded in 1891 — were shut down Wednesday in what the Provo-based newspaper is calling "a strategic move to strengthen its core news brand."

Employees of the Springville Herald, Spanish Fork Press and Nebo Reporter were informed of the changes about 1 p.m. Wednesday, after what will become the papers' final editions had already gone to press. Eight employees were laid off as part of the changes.

Daily Herald publisher and president Rona Rahlf said closing the three weekly papers is a "strategic decision to provide more content more often for south-county readers."

"Instead of waiting for their news once a week, they'll get it in the Daily Herald seven days a week," said Rahlf, the paper's publisher since July 2008.

The Daily Herald will continue to publish The Pyramid and Pyramid Shopper in Sanpete County, according to the newspaper's website.

The Springville Herald, Spanish Fork Press and Nebo Reporter dodged a bullet back in February 2009 when five other weekly newspapers owned by the Daily Herald were shut down. Company officials at the time also cited "strengthening the company's core daily product" as a reason for closing the American Fork Citizen, Lehi Free Press, Lone Peak Press, Orem Geneva Times and Pleasant Grove Review.

Former Daily Herald publisher Kirk Parkinson said Wednesday's closures were unfortunate but not unexpected.

"I was hoping those three would survive," he told the Deseret News. "All these little communities need to have a local voice."

Parkinson was publisher of the Daily Herald when the weekly papers were purchased. At the time, the strategy was to "increase the footprint for the Herald," he said.

The purchases were made, however, when the Herald was owned by Pulitzer Newspapers Inc. Lee Enterprises purchased Pulitzer for nearly $1.5 billion in 2005.

Pulitzer bought the Springville Herald from Martin Conover in 2003. Founded in 1891, the Springville Herald had been owned by the Conover family since 1936.

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