Save the newspaper campaign kicks off this week
The Dodge County Independent and its sister publication the Steele County Times have started a GoFundMe campaign this week to help the local newspapers survive what has become a tumultuous period for the newspaper industry.
Knowing that the local publications are not immune to the struggles facing the newspaper industry right now, staff members at the DCI came up with the idea for a GoFundMe campaign. The staff members went to the publisher, who approved the campaign.
“The goal of the campaign is to help make people in the community aware of how important newspapers are, especially in small towns,” said Alex Malm, news editor of the DCI in Kasson. “Through the campaign the newspaper also hopes to bring to the community’s attention that newspapers are only able to stay open through the advertising support of the local businesses and through community members showing their support by subscribing to the paper or picking up copies at newsstands.”
Over the last few years, the reality has been that newspapers are becoming more expensive to run and with more and more local businesses spending less on advertising, revenue for newspapers across the state and country are becoming less.
Just within the past year, newsprint costs have skyrocketed by 30 percent, postal rates have increased, and Dodge County and Byron have both lost local newspapers, with the Byron Review and Star Herald closing their doors. At the time of the closing, the publisher cited their papers as not being profitable anymore and hadn’t been for several years.
Last week, the 120-year-old Warroad Pioneer serving a community of 1,800 people announced it was ending its weekly publication because of declining ad sales.
Publisher Rick Bussler said it’s a similar situation with the DCI and Times. “Between the two publications, I have cut eight positions in the past year and a half because revenue has plummeted,” he said. “We are currently barebones and are quite frankly in danger of becoming extinct.”
In Blooming Prairie, the Times office has been put up for sale as a way to generate cash to keep printing the newspaper.
The Times and Independent hope to be able to continue doing what they have been doing for over 125 years, which is providing the most local news available. “Without additional community support, we may not be able to do it any longer,” Bussler said. “I hope people realize the value we bring to the communities we serve and keep the newspapers alive. Anything otherwise would be a travesty.”
Bussler said, “It really comes down to how much do people value their local newspapers. If we don’t see improvement, the reality of us ending up like other newspapers that have closed is very real.”
To donate or to check out the story go to https://www.gofundme.com/saving-our-local-community-newspapers.