Just two weeks ago, we started an appeal to readers and viewers, asking that they support more COVID-19 coverage but making donations to the Local Media Foundation in our name.
That 501(c)(3) originally was set up to help small, family-owned newspapers, and when the coronavirus got started in this country, this wonderful foundation quickly turned to helping newspapers by raising funds to more stories.
You see, newspapers get the vast majority of their funds from advertising, and when local businesses were closing down – whether for the duration of this pandemic or permanently because they could not keep funding their businesses – naturally, advertising dollars dried up.
In steps the Local Media Foundation. While there are a lot of businesses really hurting, this newspaper did not want to close down.
In fact, we are going to add staff to make sure that our communities are safe. We moved all of our COVID-19 stories in front of the paywall, and we have been in the field, covering what is going on locally.
That’s a lot of work, and a lot of dollars still flowing out the door to pay those reporter salaries.
But a wonderful thing happened. So many of you opened the way for us to continue. You have made donations through this fund, and we are pushing forward with our stories.
When I first checked out the site after putting our the plea, it actually brought tears to my eyes. So many wonderful things said about helping each other, about a free press, about the need to keep pushing, about the friendships with the family.
We’ve had anonymous donors, friends and people I don’t know. We’ve had donations from $25 to more than $1,000.
Each and every one is so appreciated, because it is keeping the reporters in the fields.
To the local advertisers who are sticking it out, who continue to run their advertising, thank you. We are pushing the newspapers out to more and more people, and the website is exploding with new viewers. Support your local businesses. They are the backbones of our towns.
To our old subscribers and to the new ones who are just signing up, a hearty thanks. You are the people we want to keep safe.
As former publisher and columnist Dale Roberson said when he was interviewed on the national radio show, hereandnow.org, “We will get through this.”
Roberson talked in his column, run April 15 in the Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch, about being born during the Depression. He followed up with all of the things through which Americans have persevered – World War II, polio, Joseph McCarthy, Vietnam, riots of the 1960s and ‘70s, bombings throughout the U.S., 911.
His message is perfectly clear – we will persevere.
And so will our local newspapers, the Hays Free Press and News-Dispatch. We will persevere through this pandemic. Americans will see the end of COVID-19. We will stand together by staying safely at a distance, washing our hands, wearing a mask and doing our jobs diligently.
So, thanks to those who have given. And if others want to give, you can go to givebutter.com/haysfreepress.
Because we all must help each other.