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New approach needed to community journalism

In June this year, it became clear that the initiatives taken to help bring The Lakeville Journal Company to a more viable sustainability, that is break even rather than losing money, were not working well enough. Over the past couple of decades, we whittled down every department, sold our printing presses and began printing elsewhere, sold our too-large building and regrouped in a new location. 

We closed down one of our publications in 2017, The Winsted Journal, which since its beginning in 1996 had never been profitable or successful on its own, with a circulation of about 1,200 as compared to The Lakeville Journal’s around-4,500 circulation. This saved some money; yet advertising revenues, which are the lion’s share of the company’s support, have steadily diminished over the years, despite our efforts to keep them steady. 

Now it’s time to be realistic about the way the world is going. With competition for advertising continuing to grow online and area businesses struggling themselves to make ends meet, we believe we must react with a different and broader approach to finding support for our community weekly newspapers if they are to survive into their next iteration. The surveys that have been returned to us show a strong commitment to having local news as we deliver it, with an emphasis on government and education coverage. The readers made clear that they value our reporting on what is happening in this rural area in a way that no one else will if The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News disappear. Look for survey results in next week’s issue, both in print and of course online at www.tricornernews.com.

We are now in the process of applying for nonprofit status, and in the wake of the Salt Lake Tribune’s successful application to the IRS for 501(c)3 status, we feel some optimism that we have a good chance of receiving it more quickly than previously would have happened. In the meantime, we have launched the Membership Model, as seen in the issue of Nov. 7 and this week. This is a step that our research indicates will strengthen our bid for federal nonprofit status.

We will keep our readers posted on the continuing outcome of these efforts. Our deepest thanks to those who have already responded and are listed in the newspapers this week as contributors. Knowing that there are supporters who believe in the mission of this small, independent media company helps give us the encouragement and impetus for moving forward and finding a transition for our publications. The only reason to do this is to benefit our communities and keep local journalism strong for the next step for local news here.

To be clear, we are extremely grateful to those who subscribe and advertise, many of you loyally over decades, not just years. That support has given us 90% of what we have needed to survive every year. Now, it’s time to try to fill in that other 10%. Even while doing that, we will constantly be looking for savings wherever we can find them and will strive to provide quality independent journalism to our communities.