We Will Keep On Fighting For You
August 6, 2020
I jumped into the publisher's position of the Countywide & Sun just three short years ago with both feet and my eyes wide open. I had been a part of the business long enough to know I would never get rich owning a newspaper, but as long as I could pay the bills, that was fine.
I still feel that way, but the struggle has become significant. You see, newspapers depend on advertisers to pay the bills. A lot of those advertisements revolve around events. Things like Tecumseh's Frontier Days or the Pottawatomie County Free Fair, graduation, local school sports, and concerts help fill our pages and bring revenue to our business. Sadly, many of those have been canceled due to COVID.
I have watched the posts on Facebook and television, asking folks to support their local restaurants and other small businesses. I have done my part. I have continued to frequent various small businesses, even when all they could offer was curbside or delivery. I do this because I want these businesses to survive and eventually thrive again.
But how do we, a small locally owned newspaper, also survive and thrive? I've seen a few pop-up ads from other newspapers asking for donations. That is fine for them, but I am uncomfortable asking for donations.
My dedicated staff and I have continued to cover and report the news every week despite the challenges of Zoom. We are still covering the meetings and the personal struggles to keep you informed while trying to make out the muffled words of speakers talking with masks covering their faces. I never thought of myself as a lip reader, but sometimes it is much easier to figure out what someone says if you can see their mouth moving.
Our readers, advertisers, and communities depend on us to keep them informed, so we continue to do everything we can to fill that responsibility.
Like us, our customers are struggling with the constant changes and worrying about where their next dollar will come from. They are redoing budgets, and unfortunately, advertising tends to be the first thing cut when times are tough. I get it. But studies show companies who continue to advertise, even on a smaller scale, through the tough times come out ahead of their competition in the long run.
Am I one of those who believes newspapers are dying? No.
I believe that folks forget how important newspapers are to their communities. Without a newspaper permanently recording history, the announcements of marriages, births, and deaths are lost. The front page spread of the local team's state championship won't be available to cut out and paste in your scrapbook to show your kids years from now. The 15-second blurb about a big local story will instantly give way to a hurricane report on the east coast.
Local newspapers dedicate hours researching, interviewing, photographing, and writing the full story to keep our readers informed. We spend countless hours driving, visiting with people and scouring our communities for heartwarming stories about local people. We attend the meetings no one wants to sit through, but everyone wants to know the outcome, so our readers know what is going on in their community.
I was once told that journalists have ink in their veins. I thought that was an interesting quote, but I now understand what it means. While we still need some income to pay our bills, what we do is so much more than that. It is a way of life. It is our calling.
So we will keep on fighting. Help us keep that ink flowing by shopping local - and maybe even buying an ad! After all, we're in this together.