The Maitland Mercury is among 10 Hunter newspapers which will stop printing until at least the end of June as owner Australian Community Media faces a drop in advertising revenue.
ACM said via a series of announcements to staff on Tuesday that the Newcastle Herald and Port Stephens Examiner would be the only survivors of the shutdown in the region.
The Mercury, Cessnock Advertiser, Dungog Chronicle, Muswellbrook Chronicle, Scone Advocate, Gloucester Advocate, Lakes Mail, Singleton Argus, Hunter Valley News and Newcastle Star will all close from Monday until at least June 29.
The Mercury, which now publishes three times a week, started in 1843 and is the oldest regional newspaper in NSW.
The affected mastheads will continue to have websites, but these will be propagated by shared regional content.
The company told staff it would reassess the newspapers' futures at the end of June but offered no guarantees they would reopen.
ACM has told landlords of more than 30 small offices around the country that it will exit leases.
The regional newspaper market has suffered in recent years due to the continued migration of advertising revenue to other platforms and the drought.
The coronavirus has been another nail in the industry's coffin, leaving many smaller country papers facing the threat of permanent closure.
News Limited suspended printing at 60 regional and suburban newspapers last week.
ACM said its 14 dailies, including former Fairfax mastheads the Newcastle Herald, Canberra Times and Illawarra Mercury, and agricultural titles such as The Land would stay open.
It would not reveal exactly how many of its 140-plus smaller titles were shutting, but it appears most of them will go into hibernation.
Journalists union representatives at the Newcastle Herald issued a statement on Tuesday imploring state and federal governments to support regional media during the crisis.
"We are concerned about the impact on the communities, many of them small, that continue to rely on ACM titles as their main source of local news at this crucial time," the statement said.
ACM is also temporarily closing four printing presses, in Canberra, Wodonga, Tamworth and the South Australian town of Murray Bridge.
In a message emailed to staff on Tuesday, ACM executive chairman Antony Catalano said the company had been "working tirelessly to try to maintain a full level of services and meet the needs of our team members, customers and the community".
But the pandemic's impact on the economy had "affected significantly" ACM's revenue from advertising and printing contracts.
"Regrettably, this means that for some of our employees across the business there will be no useful work available, and they will be stood down from work in accordance with the provisions of the Fair Work Act," Mr Catalano said.
Mr Catalano and billionaire investor Alex Waislitz bought ACM from Nine last year.
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