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Local journalism survives here, thanks to you

The Millerton News Editorial

This time last year, The Lakeville Journal Company had come through a critical time in its history. Small community newspaper companies have never been places to find big profits, but in the rural communities we serve in northern Litchfield and eastern Dutchess counties in Connecticut and New York respectively, it had become more and more of a challenge to maintain printed weekly newspapers covering all our communities. To this mission, however, we remained deeply committed, so we who work at the company decided to research and find a different way to finance the papers, The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News.

What was then the Membership Model, the solution we decided to try after being schooled on it by a publisher in California, found great support throughout our communities in both newpapers’ coverage areas. It saved the company, and actually helped put us on a firmer financial footing. It was more than we ever expected, and the support of our readers meant so much at that moment. 

Then, when the pandemic hit all of us on Earth in March, it was felt quickly in the economy of the Tri-state region. But as discussed previously in this space, we were able to apply for and receive money through the PPP loans from the federal government in the amount of $146,643. Since then, we have applied to have that loan become a grant, and we met the qualifications to have that happen, which included using the money for payroll.

During the past year, other steps have been taken to keep the company as lean as possible, and with COVID-19 changing the way all of us work, opportunities have arisen to do that. We closed our Millerton News office at the end of the summer, in that the editorial staff had been working remotely since March. They have the office in Falls Village, Conn., available to them if they need a space to work. But remote writing and designing of pages has been working well. In addition, we have raised the cost of the newspapers to a $2 cover price. 

All this meant that our appeal to readers this year was somewhat different than last year. Our owners have taken the lead on the 2020-21 appeal, and composed a letter to readers that has run in both our newspapers as inserts, with mail-back envelopes included, and as printed ads in the papers. The response has once again exceeded our expectations. 

This time last year, we had received $114,713.86 in membership support. This year, for the newly named Community Contributor model (changed so as not to be confused with our owners’ support of the company, which has been generous and so very meaningful over more than 20 years, in that they are also known as members of the company), we have received $82,533.09. Knowing the way the world has changed so very dramatically since January 2020, it is again extremely encouraging to know so many of our readers are willing to step in to be sure the company survives another year, and into the future.

See the list of contributors’ names www.tricornernews.com/community-contributors-oct-22-2020-jan-11-2021. This is the time to express profound gratitude to them, who have once again shown their belief that local journalism is worth saving, and to our owners, who have stuck with us through some very tough times. Going into 2021, we take our mission to cover our communities more seriously than ever. There are many challenges to face this year, but this company will be here to cover all the local news and we will be able to keep our readers informed on into the future.

Thank you all.

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