The COVID-19 pandemic is one of the largest news stories many of us have seen or will ever see in our lifetime. Its impacts have been devastating in many ways — particularly in the loss of life but also in the loss of livelihoods.
This is the type of story that lights a fire under journalists — a group that’s driven by a mission to inform the public in such critical ways. And we’ve been humbled seeing that our coverage has reminded so many of the importance of this craft, as our websites have seen significant increases in traffic from concerned citizens needing to stay informed.
But despite the increases in digital traffic, and despite our government recognizing newspapers as one of the many essential businesses that must continue operations during the pandemic, we are suffering losses alongside the rest of the nation as a result of COVID-19.
We have lost advertisers who have been forced to pull their placements as their own businesses shut their doors — either temporarily or permanently. We have lost subscribers — some who are concerned about how they can afford their subscription at a time when they may no longer be getting a paycheck. We, like so many businesses, have lost productivity as we have scrambled to transition our business to support remote, virtual operations wherever possible.
We have lost a lot, but we have not lost everything. And we have not lost hope. The reality is, one in five newspapers shuttered its doors in the last 15 years — and that’s without a pandemic. The news industry has been hit hard before, and this might be our hardest battle yet. But it’s one we get to fight, and so many newspapers can’t say that.
I tell you all of this because we have had to make some extraordinarily difficult decisions in the past week to be able to sustain our journalistic mission. One of those decisions was to discontinue printing of the physical newspaper on Mondays and Fridays beginning April 6. The Farmers Forum, which has historically been included with the Friday edition of the paper, will move to Saturday.
Though we do need to stop delivering the physical paper two days a week in an effort to reduce expenses, we are not going to stop delivering the news.
There’s a big difference.
We will continue to produce an electronic replica of the paper via our e-edition that’s available any time, on any device. And, as always, we will keep posting up-to-the-minute news on our sites and mobile app every day.
Print subscribers can access all of these features by logging into their online account. If you’re a subscriber who hasn’t yet set up an online account, you can do so at no additional cost by going to inforum.com/activate.
If you’re not yet a subscriber, you can unlock access to these features and unlimited content across our network of sites by going to inforum.com/subscribe.
We appreciate your readership and your support. Just as you need the news right now more than ever — we need you now more than ever. We can’t do what we do without memberships to continue our work. And right now, we have a lot of work to do.
We have been a family business for over 100 years. Four generations before me have all shared difficult moments in their history. This is our moment. Being smart with our business and making the right decisions today will determine our future.
We thank you for your understanding and hope you and your families stay safe during this difficult time. We’ll do everything we can to help you do that.
Bill Marcil Jr.
Publisher of The Forum
CEO of Forum Communications Company