Editor’s note: This city profile is part of a larger project in which Daily Universe reporters traveled across Utah and Wyoming to investigate the state of local newspapers.
Newspaper: The Richfield Reaper
History: Richfield’s first residents occupied the area over 7,000 years ago. The remains of the Native American Fremont culture dated from 1 CE to 1000 CE can be found near most sites around the Sevier County area. From 1776 to the mid 1800s, explorers and fur traders such as Father Escalante and Jedediah Smith passed through the area on one of the variants of the Old Spanish Trail. It wasn’t until January 1864 that a party of 10 men led by Albert Lewis found fertile soil, lumber and good water in the surrounding hills. Early pioneers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints soon settled the area, naming it “The Hole in the Ground.”
Economy: The largest employed industries in Richfield include educational services, healthcare and social assistance — employing 20.7% with retail trade just behind employing 20.3%. The median household income in Richfield is $42,363 a year. The job market has dropped -0.1% between April 2018 and April 2019.
Newspaper: Joe Thompson started The Richfield Reaper in 1888 and has been publishing ever since. It is a weekly newspaper which primarily covers Sevier, Wayne and Piute counties but also reaches Sanpete and Garfield counties. The paper is placed in stores on Wednesday evening and delivered by the U.S. Postal Service on Thursday morning. Both locals and those living outside of the area can subscribe to the print edition for home delivery. The publication has earned several awards from the Utah Press Association, as well as the Brehm Communications Better Newspaper Contest.
An informal survey of readers by BYU reporting students about their newspaper showed the following:
- Does a good job covering local issues and government
- Covers community sports well
- Weekly paper
- Has an online presence (website, Facebook etc.)
- Home delivery
- Found in local grocery stores
- May not cover federal and state government impact on city enough
- Poor coverage of social services issues
- The print edition is mostly subscription-based