ST. LOUIS – The Riverfront Times, a publication nearly fifty years old with deep roots in St. Louis, may have printed the final edition of its weekly paper. Some are describing it as the end of an era.

Wednesday’s news stunned readers across St. Louis: the Riverfront Times (RFT) had been sold to an unknown buyer, and the RFT’s entire staff laid-off. FOX 2 also learned Thursday none of the paper’s employees will receive severance pay.

RFT Executive Editor Sarah Fenske did note the previous owner has hired at least one employee for their corporate office and is hoping to find room for another.

The publication, founded by Ray Hartmann in 1977, has become a St. Louis staple. Readers told FOX 2 they were shocked to learn of the paper’s sale, and the termination of its hard-working employees.

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“I was very shocked and concerned about the employees being laid-off without notice,” said Chyrel Lanos-Sneed, a reader of the RFT. “I think it’s a tremendous loss.”

Others fear the potential loss could leave a void in the St. Louis media landscape.

“I think it’s terrible, man. I think the local media is important,” said reader Sean Hamadziripi.

Hamadziripi also worries the paper either won’t return or will resurface as a shadow of its former self, with less of an emphasis on local journalism.

“I have a feeling they’re going to cut a lot of costs, cut a lot of budgets,” he added.

Ray Hartmann founded the Riverfront Times in 1977. Hartmann sold the publication in the late 90’s. He says he shares the same sense of loss many are now feeling. He feels the readers and the staff members are the real victims of this change.

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“It’s a sad thing for journalism in our community, but it’s part of a sad story nationally,” Hartmann said.

But Hartmann, who is now running for Congress in Missouri’s 2nd District, said he’s also proud of what the RFT was able to accomplish over the years.

“We just were able to connect with the audience,” Hartmann said. “We questioned the other media’s assumptions. We were sort of, at our best, a college newspaper for the real world.”

With so much uncertainty over the paper’s future, one thing is certain: the Riverfront Times would be missed.

“I hope it’s, you know, not gone forever,” Lanos-Sneed said.

“I think it’s a big loss for St. Louis,” Hartmann added.

To this point, nothing has been released regarding the identity of the new buyer, or their intentions for the outlet. Stay with FOX 2 for updates.