Quite frequently these days, I hear the same types of questions from friends and acquaintances during our ongoing discussions of the current economic conditions:
How does a small community newspaper survive during a recession which is killing-off some of the giants of the publishing industry? How does a small local newspaper survive the onslaught of the Internet and other technological advances which have virtually wiped out entire industries… and has long been predicted to be the cause the end of the newspaper industry?
To be honest, I sometimes hear these questions in my own mind!!!
These are challenging times for all businesses, but particularly so for the newspaper industry, which is facing the twin threat of a slow economy AND shrinking relevance due to the Internet.
(How’s that for a straight-up, honest, no-spin assessment?!!!)
Fortunately, it’s not as glum as it would seem for this little weekly journal, or the thousands of other local weeklies scattered across the continent. While daily newspapers have in fact been suffering for more than a decade due to pressure from the Internet, smaller community newspapers have actually seen growth… presumably because the localized news featured in community newspapers is not as readily available online.
Still, the slow economy has hampered all of us! Virtually all of the funds which have historically allowed this newspaper to publish each week have come from advertising revenues, primarily from small, local businesses which use the newspaper as a vehicle to attract new customers. As the slower economy has forced many smaller businesses to cut back or close, some of those ad revenues have dried up.
Consequently, we, like nearly every other business in America, are making changes to survive the recession. (One of those small changes involves Yours Truly working an extra 10 hours each week on nights and weekends to help reduce overhead costs!!! Believe me… I’m ready for this recession to be OVER!!!)
Another lucky change for us is that more and more larger business are suddenly turning to community weeklies for THEIR advertising, because they, too, are trying to cut costs, and realize that smaller newspapers are more affordable than their larger counterparts. And every little bit helps.
But the biggest single factor that helps this newspaper survive -- especially during tough times -- is the support we have from the community... not just businesses, but contributors, readers, and many, many local groups and organizations.
Each week, dozens of local schools, churches, sports teams, and organizations take the time to email us their news, so we can spread the word to the entire community. We are also fortunate to have a good number of local writers and photographers who take it upon themselves to collect local news and pass it on. These contributors are the backbone of our small news-gathering organization. Thanks to their volunteer efforts, our community is able to have a newspaper… and, as has been said many times before… a newspaper is the glue that holds a community together.
Each year, at about this time, when folks are returning from vacation, and thoughts are turning to the coming school year, the new sports season, or the new organizational calendar, we invite local residents to join us in this ongoing adventure. We encourage YOU to contribute items of interest to us, so that we can share them with the rest of the community.
Whether your talent lies in reporting news, photographing events, writing a community column, or just passing on local items of interest you happen to come across, we want your help. If you’re a participant or member of any local church, school group, neighborhood association, youth sports team, or civic organization, please volunteer your efforts to make sure YOUR group’s news is not being overlooked. If you send it to us, we’ll pass it on to the rest of the community… (or at least to our estimated 20,000 weekly readers!!!)
And we’re also ALWAYS looking for your ideas, suggestions, or comments to help make your newspaper better. Anything at all… just send an email directly to me: RodShealy@aol.com
We want you to become a part of our team. It will help this newspaper survive the recession, and help make the community a better, stronger place to live, work and grow.
And, as always, we thank you for your support!