Publisher’s Notebook: We are committed to you

Published 12:05 am Saturday, April 11, 2020

Betty J. Ramsey

By Betty J. Ramsey

While COVID-19 is a global pandemic, the impact locally has been intensely felt. In the past few weeks every business in our community has been forced to make some tough decisions. Some businesses have reduced their hours, others have been forced to shut down completely and some have had to drastically change the way they conduct business in order to follow social distancing guidelines. All have been impacted by COVID-19 and we are no exception.

As newspapers across the country have experienced a sharp decline in local advertising due to nonessential businesses having to close and events being canceled, we have also been affected. Just this past week more than 1,000 newspapers across the country have made the business decision to reduce their print publication days, terminate or furlough employees, cut employee compensation or a combination of these as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As you probably read on our front page today we made the difficult decision to reduce our print publication day to Wednesday only. Print is one of our biggest expenses and so we made the business decision to reduce print frequency in order to keep our journalists and staff gainfully employed while still delivering the news seven days a week on our website TheTidewaterNews.com. We have seen a record number of readers on our website TheTidewaterNews.com since the pandemic began and expect to see those numbers continue to rise.

Let me try to address some of your questions and concerns:

Will you charge me less for my subscription? If you prepaid for your subscription, you will receive the same number of editions you paid for, just over a longer period. For example, if you paid us in late March for three months of delivery from April to June, you paid us for roughly 26 issues of the newspaper. You’ll still get those 26 issues, but it will just be spread out over six months instead of three. If you pay month to month, we ask that you continue paying your current rate or even consider our “We Support Community Journalism” premium rate to help us meet our vital civic mission of keeping the community informed. If you use our website and other digital offerings, you’ll get more news than ever, just not in a printed format.

Does this mean there will be less content? Our staff will produce the same number of locally written stories, and these will be shared online in a timely fashion. We remain committed to you, our readers, and plan to make our Wednesday newspaper a larger paper filled with local stories, photographs and information you want to read about your friends and neighbors.

Is the change permanent? This was an urgent and direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related shutdown of the local economy. On the other side of this economic crisis, we will reevaluate the way we serve you in print. All along the way, we will work harder than ever to serve you online. It’s impossible to know at this time the shape and length of the economic recovery. In short, we will be adaptive.

Have you sought government or other external support? Our application was among the first submitted last week for the Payroll Protection Program, part of the most recent federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. The program consists of forgivable loans to keep small businesses afloat and employees on the payroll. Like hundreds of thousands of other small businesses in this country, we eagerly await word on our application.

There are many ways we can support each other during this unprecedented time — order take out from a local restaurant, get your oil changed while practicing social distancing, order from a local business online. The choices we make now and in the coming months will make a difference — we are in this together.

If I haven’t answered all your questions please reach out to me at Betty.Ramsey@TheTidewaterNews.com or leave me a message at 757-562-3187. I look forward to hearing from you.