One of my favorite things to read is news about news. I enjoy seeing what other publications are doing, how they are overcoming obstacles and how they are facing the changing ways readers enjoy getting their news.
I’ve noticed a few times in the past 10 years that a publication decided to send a message with a blank front page. But why would a publication do something like that?
Meryl Kornfield, of The Washington Post, explains the most recent blank page display in an article last week:
“Editors of Kansas City’s Northeast News opted for an unusual choice for the front page of their March 21 issue: They left it blank.
“It was not a printing error, they assured confused readers who called and emailed their newsroom. Like many other local newsrooms, the News has lost advertising revenue at an unprecedented rate during the coronavirus pandemic. So the six-member staff kept its front page empty, a warning sign to the community about what might come if it ceased publication.
“That’s the message we wanted to send: What happens if we’re gone?” publisher and co-owner Michael Bushnell said. “If we print a blank front page with no news, people are going to see what it’s like if we’re gone.”
“The 89-year-old weekly newspaper with a circulation of 8,500 was already struggling financially before the pandemic as advertising dollars waned. The newspaper is free, and the website does not have a paywall. When the economy spiraled in 2020, two laundromats, a charter school and a grocery store pulled their ads, a monthly loss of about $2,700, Bushnell said.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the strain on already-cash-strapped newsrooms, leading to the closure of more than 60, according to the Poynter Institute, a journalism think tank.
“In 15 years, one-fourth of newspapers nationwide were forced to close, according to a 2020 study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At least 1,800 communities that had a local news outlet in 2004 were without one at the beginning of 2020, the UNC team found.
“This repeated almost weekly across the country, another community newspaper closes up and a community loses its voice,” Bushnell said. “While many in the Zip codes the paper serves have the privilege of internet at home, like many urban core areas in Kansas City and throughout the U.S., more than a few do not, and they rely on this print product for vital information.”
I am so very thankful to belong to a community that knows the value of hyper-local print publications.
I have seen too many community publications close in the past five years. Most are small towns with populations less than 8,000. Where do those residents learn about local elections, water issues, county and city projects? What are their elected officials doing to work for them? How will they know? Oh, social media I suppose. We all know how reliable that is. Instead of supporting a local business with advertising dollars, the owners of social media and Big Brother take the proceeds from small towns – which tend to fall by the way side shortly after local publication ceases.
It honestly breaks my heart for those communities. But here in Polk County, we are blessed. I was once told to look at a community’s local paper and judge the area’s economy based on it. How many locally owned businesses are there? Do cooperations invest in the local community? Do the businesses understand the importance of advertising? Are the stories and articles engaging, interesting and informative?
One look at the Pulse and you can tell this area is thriving – despite 2020 and everything it brought with it.
To the advertisers that know the Pulse has a dedicated readership, to the readers who look forward to the Pulse each week, thank you for knowing our value and allowing the team at Pulse Multi-Media to continue doing what we love: serve the community.