Anyone who looks into my background will learn that long before I became an elected official, I was deeply involved in the weekly newspaper business. I started out as a copywriter and eventually was able to put together a weekly paper, even making sure it was delivered to the newsstand. For that reason and many others, I am a firm believer that the weekly newspaper is a treasure to be protected and kept alive.
The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on all sorts of printed media. You can tell by the lack of advertising, which is the lifeblood of any newspaper. No paper can survive without this revenue, so the virus represents a life or death challenge to the existence of your weekly paper.
Thanks to the internet, we can access many forms of information. But from my viewpoint, weekly papers still give the best information on what is happening in your hometown. Local government is under great stress, but we can’t find out what is going on in our community by reading the Daily News or the New York Times. Some of our friends and neighbors are having happy events and it would be nice to find out about them. Others have suffered personal tragedies and we need local news to make sure that we can help them in their hour of need.
Somehow, the big media outlets will have a better chance of survival even if they see a drop-in ad, because they have cash reserves and can find unique ways of staying alive. The weekly newspaper business relies on ads and community support and we have to find ways to keep them afloat. You don’t have to be a business to place ads in a weekly to help keep it going. Salutes to our first responders is one way to recognize the heroes in your town or village. There are many others who are toiling night and day to keep you safe so why not recognize them?
I don’t have all the answers to this challenge, but I do think that there are special ways to support our weekly publications. If you don’t have a regular subscription, it’s time to buy one at a very modest price. You can tell others to support their papers because word of mouth works especially now when we rely on our phones to reach the outside world. And you can tell the merchants who you visit briefly that they, too, should support their weekly paper.
No one has asked me to write this particular column. But having a long history of being a part of this critical business, I felt it was the right tell time to share my thinking with you.
Hopefully, over the next few months, we will be able to resume a more normal life, but it would never be the same without your weekly newspaper.