Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Newspapers are feeling the pain of reduced ad-revenues and lost circulation.
The Tampa Bay Times, today, announced that they will cut 5-days of printing from the normal 7-days per-week. According to Poynter, the Times will only have a print edition on Wednesday and Sunday. This appears to be a temporary business decision.
Meanwhile, Gannett sent out a company memo to all of their papers today, announcing furloughs for staff. The memo also stated that the executive team will be taking a 25% pay reduction during the hardship and CEO Paul Bascobert will not be taking a salary at all during the financial dilemma.
But will newspapers recover?
This is not good for our democracy. Newspapers are a necessity in our communities, our state, and our nation. Without newspapers, public officials won’t be held accountable and the people won’t be informed.
I will leave this writing with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, one of my favorites.
“The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them.”- Thomas Jefferson