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As of this writing (April 6), the Minnesota Dept. of Health’s situation report said there are 1,069 people who have tested positive for COVID-19, out of a total of 29,260 tests for the virus. Of those who have tested positive, 34 had died as of April 6.
On the same date, Wisconsin was reporting 2,578 confirmed cases, with 92 deaths among them, and 28,512 negative test results.
Why mention the numbers when we are now printing every other week, and by the time some of you read this, the numbers will have changed, perhaps drastically if we suddenly hit the peak that everyone says is imminent?
We provide those numbers as a not very subtle way of pointing out that we are among the government-approved “essential” services. Along with health care workers, truckers, law enforcement, grocery and liquor store employees, restaurant staff (at extremely reduced numbers), the news media must carry on with business as usual, as far as each individual business – and, yes, we are a business – can in these trying times.
How we differ from some of our essential colleagues who continue to work through this crisis, we are doing so with drastically reduced revenue since a large percentage of our advertisers are businesses that have been forced to shut their doors – the arts and entertainment sector, for the most part. As long as they are not doing business, our business suffers.
We have responded by getting leaner. We’ve reduced the number of pages we print and how often we print, going from a weekly to printing every other week. Although we are aggressively stocking about 100 locations with fresh Readers, you inevitably have fewer places to pick up a copy of the latest Reader for the time being.
We are also working hard to make our newspaper an indispensable part of the Northland experience with more local stories. more cartoons, more puzzles and games, and two weeks’ worth of TV guides. But we must also face the reality of having bills to pay. With the loss in revenue comes a subsequent loss in the ability to survive without some help. Yes, we are looking at various governmental offers of financial loans for small businesses. But even that may not be enough, and we have no idea when any of that money will, in fact, be available.
It’s costly to print a quality independent newspaper that’s totally free to its readers. You can count on us to keep at it, but can we count on you? Can we count on your financial support directly to us, as well to our advertisers – those who are still operating and those who will return when this nightmare has ended? Sadly, we were already the last locally owned media in Duluth, even before coronavirus arrived.
We draw some inspiration from the public radio model, wherein those who enjoy the programming help support it. We intend to work out expanded benefits for those who choose to support us, but frankly that is difficult today when most of our allies are closed down; and we are scrambling to simply get a newspaper out.
To help us directly, we’ve created a donation page that you can reach via the website, DuluthReader.com, by donating with either a one-time gift or become a supporting member with a monthly donation. Your financial support will help us get through these tough times when so much of our ad revenue disappeared overnight.
For nearly a quarter-century, The Reader has depended on the support of other local small businesses as our primary source of income, to continue to bring you a free newspaper. Our heartfelt thanks go to those who have already donated and to those who do so.
We all know they grow ’em tough up here in the Northland. This trial can only make us stronger.
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