The Sandoval Signpost, the local paper of record for Placitas and southern Sandoval County, has been sold to the CTRL+P Publishing Group, a publishing company owned by Pat Davis. The publishing group also owns The Corrales Comment and The Paper.
The Sandoval Signpost was published by Barb and Ty Belknap of Belknap Publishing, Inc. since 1988, with only a short break under outside owners. The Sandoval Signpost serves more than 5,000 Southern Sandoval County households monthly and an additional 1,000 other readers through pickups.
“We are so pleased to have found a truly capable newspaper publishing group to continue the Signpost for the Sandoval County community,” said Barb Belknap, former Signpost co-owner and co-publisher for over 30 years. “Ty and I are grateful for their effort and wish them every success.”
Davis says the deal ensures all the group’s publications can continue to publish and expand offerings despite increasing pressures from rising print and distribution costs. “More than 2,000 small communities around the country have lost their local newspaper in recent years,” Davis said. “Democracy does not get healthier if a community’s only source of news is whatever a neighbor decides to post on Nextdoor or the local Facebook group.”
Tierna Unruh-Enos, publisher for the CTRL+P group, added “These local papers were founded by passionate local journalists who keep local town councils and county commissions honest and help connect small businesses to local customers. In recent times it has become harder and harder to overcome rising costs to print and deliver quality publications in an age when everyone can access news online for free.”
The Sandoval Signpost joins the Corrales Comment, which was purchased by Davis earlier this year, and The Paper, Albuquerque’s weekly independent paper, which Davis co-founded with partner Abby Lewis in 2020. The publishing collaboration allows each publication to provide additional products and coverage to readers across the group’s coverage area and demographics. All three publications will continue to maintain their own subscribers, reporters, contributors and advertising teams to ensure that each remains focused on their unique community.
Combined, all three publications will deliver more than 10,000 copies weekly across the Albuquerque metro in pickups and an additional 6,000 households through bi-weekly and monthly print subscriptions.
Davis describes CTRL+P as a “lab” for news innovation born out of a love for local news. “My first paying job was with a small-town AM radio station reading the local news. When I came to New Mexico two decades ago, the Weekly Alibi was my guide to finding my place in my new home. Watching these local connections fall away over the years, Unruh-Enos and I decided that we could preserve local news by expanding the offerings of local newspaper outlets.”
One of the first experiments under the group is the new “pay what you can” subscription pricing at The Corrales Comment. It allows subscribers to pick their own subscription price, down to $0, to ensure every household in the Village of Corrales has access to quality local news, no matter how much they can afford to pay. Future innovations include new websites, bonus digital issues and online-only content to provide new platforms for local news to reach readers in different ways.
Under Davis, Lewis and Unruh-Enos, The Paper, has grown to a daily email subscriber base of over 45,000 subscribers. It recently won first place for Best National Coverage of Right-Wing Extremism from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia for exposing the involvement of former Otero County Commissioner and Cowboys For Trump leader Couy Griffin in the January 6th attack on the US Capitol. The Paper’s reporter Jonathan Sims of Acoma Pueblo also won Best Continuing Coverage honors from the National Federation of Press Women’s for uncovering the hidden history of Indian school graves under an Albuquerque park. The Paper’s design team also won national accolades for newspaper design from the NFPW.
“We’re showing that investing in high caliber reporters and turning them loose to find news where they live still creates great journalism. And we are showing that we can bring more readers to them by not being afraid to experiment with new ways of delivering the news to readers,” said Unruh-Enos.
“We are always looking for additional publications to partner with going forward in this grand experiment in community-supported journalism,” added Davis. “We are creating a local news lab for innovations to keep these decades-old local institutions around for another 20 or 30 years. The founders of these two well-run and highly respected Sandoval County papers have a lot to teach the rest of us about longevity in the news business and I’m honored they trust us to do just that.”