This local business needs your support

I was on the radio this week, rapping with friend Keith Hodkinson on 96.7 FM as he graciously invited me to his Fostoria studio to be part of his afternoon show.

Between classic rock hits and discussion about some of our favorite artists, we dug deep about news and its place in our society now and into the future.

It was a variation of a conversation I have often — people are genuinely fascinated with our industry and also have a working knowledge that things are tougher in the news biz than they once were.

Are you going to stop printing papers? No, we print 30,000 each night and will continue running that press long into the future.

What does the future look like? I don’t know, but we need to be more diversified in our revenue streams and need to relentlessly pursue new waves of people who look to us as their news source.

Another piece of the puzzle — likely key to our survival — is uncomfortable for me.

We need you to look at us differently.

Not just as a rusting entity whose best days are behind us. Not just another website lost in the digital world. Not as fake news or slanted news.

We need you to see us as a community asset that is worthy of your support.

Your local papers need you. Trust me, we wake up every day trying to do as much as possible to present a great product and to keep our tradition alive while trying to forge a viable future.

But we are nothing without help.

What does that look like? If you like the paper, buy the paper or a print or digital subscription. Encourage your friends to, as well.

If you are a business owner, consider advertising with us. We offer a full suite of digital and traditional marketing solutions, and we can do everything from a front-page banner ad to a website build to targeting a specific audience through geofencing, SEO or SEM. Call us and have a conversation about what we can do for you.

We often champion local business, like many in our communities do. But it’s time to flip the script: We are a local business, and we need your support.

I wish that more in our communities viewed us that way, and saw us not just as what used to be but as what the future needs.

According to a recent Poynter story, there are 202 counties in the United States that now do not have a print or digital news outlet. The same story said that more than a fourth of local newspapers have closed since 2005. The phenomenon is called a “news desert,” which has increased exponentially in the past 15 years.

And, while I like to wax poetic about newspapers, there is danger in the desert.

Media outlets have been a source of information to the people. Without a viable option, there is no stopping local government entities from slipping things past the populace that could be expensive, damaging, and not in its best interest.

So, yes, I believe the stakes are high.

I love talking about our industry, about what makes it and the people who practice it special, and why I chose to be part of it as my life’s vocation. I like to talk about print and digital, how wonderful and passionate our communities are, about what was, what is, and what will be.

But I need to start being real.

We are a local business fighting for survival.

And I’m asking all to see the importance of local news in their community, and to support it.

Alpena native Jeremy Speer is the publisher of The Courier in Findlay, Ohio, The Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin, Ohio, the Sandusky (Ohio) Register, the Norwalk (Ohio) Reflector, and Review Times in Fostoria, Ohio. He can be reached at jeremyspeer@thecourier.com.


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