AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
Like so many businesses around McKenzie County, North Dakota and the nation, newspapers are struggling to maintain their very existence as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
And that is a message that needs to be heard around the country as newspapers across the country are struggling with far fewer dollars in advertising revenue and the loss of subscribers. That drop in revenue is forcing newspapers, like the McKenzie County Farmer, to make serious adjustments to how they operate, how frequently they can print a newspaper, and how much news they can carry.
Looking across the country’s newspaper landscape, we have seen the newspaper industry lay off thousands of reporters that have a direct impact on the stories that they carry. At the same time, many daily newspapers have reduced the number of days that they print in order to save costs. In North Dakota alone, very soon there will be no daily newspapers that will be printed seven days a week. And that tragedy is just a stark reminder of how newspapers are trying to cope as businesses, who are trying to keep their doors open, are cutting back on their advertising expenditures and newspaper readers, who are also struggling financially, are choosing to forego subscribing to their local papers.
In the last 15 years, according to a University of North Carolina study, 1,800 communities have lost their local newspaper.
The question that everyone should be asking is just what does having a newspaper mean to you and to your community.
The most obvious answer to that question is that your local newspaper provides you with the information on what actions are being taken by your government leaders, what is happening to your tax dollars and property values, and what is going on in your school systems and throughout the community that you call home.
But there is more to a newspaper than just that. Newspapers also highlight the accomplishments of our neighbors and friends, cover area sporting events, and offer area businesses the opportunity to market their products and services to a very loyal readership.
The theme of this year’s National Newspaper Week, which is being observed from Oct. 4 - 10 is America Needs Journalists. And never before in this nation’s history has it become more apparent just how important it is to have newspaper journalists active in our community, state and nation.
Yes, the McKenzie County Farmer is struggling like everyone else during these trying times. But this is not the first time that we have witnessed economic turmoil in the nation in our 113-year history of covering what is happening in McKenzie County.
But thanks to our loyal advertisers and subscribers we plan on being around for years to come.