Simply put, the era of COVID-19 is not a good time to be in the newspaper industry. (Although for that matter, it also isn’t a good time to be in radio, the restaurant industry or pretty much any business or profession that isn’t selling Clorox or Lysol products…lol.)
Numerous newspapers around the country and in Kentucky have closed during these unprecedented times.
Locally, COVID-19 economics are hitting newspapers hard, too.
Case in point are two area newspapers where I previously worked at early on in my career. The papers have been forced to merge their operations into one building and significantly cut back on their number of publication days in recent months.
Even though these newspapers are competitors, you still have to feel sorry for the staffs, some of whom will have to drive significantly further to work and back each day.
There are some good people working there, and I just hope COVID-19 economics don’t further hurt those folks.
At any rate, the News Journal is now the last paper standing, which still has an office located in Whitley County. I suppose this is something to be proud of.
However, we, too, have been impacted by COVID-19 economics, and have had to run tighter papers, consolidate some operations, and delay doing some other projects.
The bottom line is that we aren’t going anywhere, at least not any time soon.
I would just like to thank our advertisers for sticking by us as best that they could during these unprecedented times.
As I wrote in a column a few months ago, these are strange times for the newspaper industry and advertisers, who largely fell into one of three categories early during the pandemic.
First, there were businesses which had to close, and there was no point in those businesses advertising. Second, there were the businesses, particularly some restaurants, which were barely hanging on doing carry out only business. Most of these businesses couldn’t afford to advertise.
Then lastly, there were very few businesses, such as some of our grocery stores and general merchandise stores, which were so swamped with customers that the last thing they needed was to advertise and get more business.
As I said, these are strange times.
Fortunately, several businesses, which could, stuck with us during these trying times, and we are thankful for their support.
Our subscribers have also been great. We had our best response ever with a subscription drive a few months ago with many of those subscribers renewing for more than one year.
We thank you all for your support of local journalism.
It’s a two-way street. We have tried to have the backs of our local businesses and those of our subscribers and others in the community, too, during this pandemic.
During the early days of the pandemic we published a list of businesses still operating during COVID-19, a list of grocery and general merchandise stores with senior only shopping hours, and a list of restaurants that were still operating in some capacity along with how they were operating, such as drive-thru, carry out, etc.
We ran these lists in the newspaper, and also multiple times on our website for everyone to see, and not just our subscribers.
I am proud to say that we have not placed any of our COVID-19 coverage behind the paywall on our website. On what seems like a nearly daily basis we are running stories about new numbers of COVID-19 cases either in Whitley County or its surrounding counties in Kentucky, Laurel, Knox, Bell and McCreary.
It is my goal for us to continue publishing information about COVID-19 on our website for free during the remainder of this pandemic, however long that lasts.
Again, to our advertisers and subscribers, thank you for your support during this trying time.