Like you, we’re feeling shell shocked by the magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis, first to people’s health and —a close second— to the economic impacts on their lives, particularly those who were already struggling.
The third week of the month always finds us hunkered down to finalize our stories to meet our deadline—and now COVID-19 has given new meaning to “hunker down.” But, as a small staff, we’ve been focused on our April issue since the impact of the crisis hit; we haven’t really thought through how the Front Porch might make it through a downturn in advertising as businesses are impacted by the Stay-at-Home order.
When the paper started in 2000, no one lived in Stapleton—it still looked like an airport. So the original distribution of the paper was for our neighbors, keeping you informed of the big new development going in next door.
Now Stapleton, with more than 11,000 households—and still growing—is the biggest of the neighborhoods where we distribute. Even before the coronavirus hit, we had begun to wonder if home distribution to more than 25,000 households could be sustained in an era when newspapers are getting smaller and shutting down. A March 23 New York Times article on newspaper layoffs and cancelled print editions due to COVID-19 said, “Since 2004, roughly one-fourth of American newspapers—more than 2,000—have been lost to mergers or shutdowns…”
We have concluded that the uncertainties that lie ahead about coronavirus necessitate a change from doorstep delivery. We are looking at a combination of direct mail to Stapleton and distribution to racks in Safeway (with refills every Thursday) for pickup by Lowry, Park Hill, Montclair and E. Colfax neighbors. As businesses reopen we will add distribution locations and post them on our website. We welcome suggested locations and permission for sidewalk racks.
A monthly (or weekly, or even daily) paper can’t keep up with the pace of change social media offers. Our goal has been to provide a thoughtful look at neighborhood issues—and how national issues play out in our neighborhoods—by talking to local folks with expertise in these areas.
We’re heartened to see the community coming together to support health care workers and businesses that are being impacted by this crisis. And we’re thankful to our advertisers who hung in there this month, even after the shockwave hit.
If having a community paper is important to you, we would welcome your reminders to businesses that our readers are their customers. We’ve been publishing this paper for 20 years now, and with your help, we can keep it going. And keep in mind we post every issue at FrontPorchNE.com where you can comment and share.
Carol, Steve and our hard working staff