As we enter the second month of being on lockdown, there are signs that the extraordinary steps we have taken to isolate ourselves from the coronavirus are working. Rates of infection and death are down from the projections and flattening the curve worked.
The changes in the way we live impacted nearly every aspect of our lives. These changes have been profound and historic. This time has affected, in one form or another, nearly every person.
It’s difficult to measure the cost of the stay at home orders. It is simplistic to look to reduced earning power and lost jobs as the main sacrifice to the greater good, but it is foolish to discount the very real financial impact to many, many businesses and families.
At the onset of the pandemic, media outlets like this newspaper were considered an essential service, meaning we could continue to operate as other businesses were forced to close.
It’s been a difficult balancing act for us during the past month, working to bring the news you depend on while the advertising revenue we depend on has dwindled. We have kept things going, just like we did during two World Wars and in the aftermath of the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.
But it is a lie to say things are anywhere near normal for our business. Like other businesses, we struggle to keep things going.
As the federal government considers a second round of stimulus payments, the newspaper industry is making a case for consideration. We perform a needed service in our communities and would benefit from the government spending some advertising dollars with us, instead of Google, Facebook and Instagram.
These public service and informative ads could be similar to the ones running right now about the U.S. Census. They could carry critical government information about data from the CDC, access to small business loans, medical resources for families and other important topics. We’re asking for a commitment that would be spent in an equitable manner across all local news providers.
We understand that this is an unorthodox request, but believe we have audiences that could directly benefit from the advertising. We feel this approach is mutually beneficial in the extraordinary times we are living in today.
We would also like the government to offer tax deductions as incentives for subscribers and advertisers to continue supporting local newspapers.
There seems to be a popular misconception that newspapers like us have always and will always be here. We are seen by some as a utility or a public service, always there and ready to do the work of informing the community and providing a check and balance on local government.
I’m not sure who these folks believe are actually paying the bill for our staff, printing and postage. I believe some people believe “someone” is making sure our papers stay profitable.
During the pandemic, we are grateful for the subscribers and advertisers who have been our “someones.”
If you share our belief that newspapers are worth changes in tax code or consideration for public service advertising by the federal government, please contact your congressman and senators.
We want to be here forever. We understand we may need some help to do so. Thanks for being here for us now.
As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.