Across the country, news organizations have been furloughing staff, adopting reduced publication schedules or shutting down outright. In an environment that saw one in five US newspapers shut down during the last year, COVID-19 could deliver the final blow to local news. (see also here, and here).
Last week, Brooke Hauser, Editor of The Daily Hampshire Gazette, alerted readers to a reduction in publication in an effort to keep The Gazette afloat in the face of financial pressures resulting from the COVID-19 emergency. These measures include suspending publication of Hampshire Life indefinitely and the print version of the Valley Advocate for the month of April. This notice echoes an earlier warning from Hauser in June of 2019 about the precarious standing of small local papers and the need for more subscribers, advertisers, and community support if the papers are to survive.
We are fortunate that here in Amherst we have multiple sources of news to help to keep us informed and to help us promote transparency in government, especially as we realize that so many communities around the country have lost all of their local news sources. The Gazette, The Amherst Bulletin, and The Valley Advocate, all published by the Newspapers of New England Group, provide an invaluable service to our community and we at The Indy view them as critical allies in our efforts to support an informed public which in turn is essential for a healthy democracy.
I am a long-time subscriber to the Gazette. I encourage others who have considered subscribing or who read the Gazette from time to time on line, or who follow our links in The Indy to Gazette articles to join me and subscribe now, before it is too late. You can subscribe here.
No doubt we will mourn the loss of The Gazette and The Bulletin and The Advocate when they are gone. We still have a narrow window to ensure that doesn’t happen. Please subscribe if you can.