We are committed to you
By Betty Ramsey
While COVID-19 is a global pandemic, the impact locally has been intensely felt. In the past few weeks, every business in our community has been forced to make some tough decisions. Some businesses have reduced their hours, others have been forced to shut down completely and some have had to drastically change the way they conduct business in order to follow social distancing guidelines. All have been impacted by COVID-19, and we are no exception.
As newspapers across the country have experienced a sharp decline in local advertising due to nonessential businesses having to close and events being canceled, we have also been affected. Just this past week, more than 1,000 newspapers across the country have made the business decision to reduce their print publication days, terminate or furlough employees, cut employee compensation or a combination of these as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As you probably read on our front page today, we made the difficult decision to reduce our print publication days to Wednesday and Sunday only. Print is one of our biggest expenses, and so we made the business decision to reduce print frequency in order to keep our journalists and staff gainfully employed while still delivering the news seven days a week on our website, SuffolkNewsHerald.com. We have seen a record number of readers on our website since the pandemic began and expect to see those numbers continue to rise.
Let me try to address some of your questions and concerns:
Will you charge me less for my subscription? If you prepaid for your subscription, you will receive the same number of editions you paid for, just over a longer period. For example, if you paid us in late March for three months of delivery from April to June, you paid us for roughly 65 issues of the newspaper. You’ll still get those 65 issues, but it will just be spread out over more months. If you pay month to month, we ask that you continue paying your current rate or even consider our “We Support Community Journalism” premium rate to help us meet our vital civic mission of keeping the community informed. If you use our website and other digital offerings, you’ll get more news than ever, just not in a printed format. The Suffolk News-Herald will continue to be free for pick up at the same locations as before on Wednesday and Sunday.
Does this mean there will be less content? Our staff will produce the same number of locally written stories, and these will be shared online in a timely fashion. We remain committed to you, our readers, and plan to make our Wednesday and Sunday newspapers larger papers filled with local stories, photographs and information you want to read about your friends and neighbors.
Is the change permanent? This was an urgent and direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related shutdown of the local economy. On the other side of this economic crisis, we will re-evaluate the way we serve you in print. All along the way, we will work harder than ever to serve you online. It’s impossible to know at this time the shape and length of the economic recovery. In short, we will be adaptive.
Have you sought government or other external support? Our application was among the first submitted last week for the Paycheck Protection Program, part of the most recent federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. The program consists of forgivable loans to keep small businesses afloat and employees on the payroll. Like hundreds of thousands of other small businesses in this country, we eagerly await word on our application.
There are many ways we can support each other during this unprecedented time — order takeout from a local restaurant, get your oil changed while practicing social distancing, order from a local business online, the list goes on. The choices we make now, and in the coming months, will make a difference — we are in this together.
If I haven’t answered all of your questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.
Betty Ramsey is the publisher of the Suffolk News-Herald. She can be reached at email@example.com.