These are frightening and disorienting times, and on behalf of our organization I wish you and your families the strength we all need to get through the weeks and months ahead. I'm afraid the impacts will be profound but am equally confident that we will pull together to get through it.
Local news organizations and the journalists who work so hard to provide their communities with reliable and thoughtful news were facing financial challenges long before the COVID-19 crisis hit.
But today's public health emergency, and the economic devastation that threatens all small businesses, may very well be the final blow that ends local journalism as we know it.
Across the country, even local newspapers that are adapting to the migration of readers to the web and are successfully transitioning from print publishing to online publishing face an existential threat to their survival.
We, unfortunately, are among them. But since we are betting our future on you — loyal readers who understand the importance of an independent press to our democracy — we remain optimistic.
I started our company 40 years ago with the help of 14 local residents who believed in the need for an independent and locally owned newspaper that would be responsive to the community and dedicated to producing thoughtful, quality journalism that is trusted and respected.
We've successfully managed our way through many economic ups and downs, including the dot com bust, the launch of Craigslist, Google and Facebook, 9/11, the 2008 financial collapse and Great Recession and many other challenges large and small. And we were at the forefront of the news industry back in 1994, when we became the first in the nation to publish our entire editorial content on the web, and have become essential to our communities. We have expanded our editorial staff to deepen our reporting and to provide coverage of news as it happens.
But the COVID-19 crisis represents, by far, the greatest threat to the survival of good local news organizations. While advertising revenues are plummeting, the work we do has never been more urgent. Our reporters and editors have been working around the clock to keep you informed on every angle of this terrible story, now working mostly from home but venturing out into the community when necessary.
If readers who value journalism don't step up to support their local newspapers and their websites now, many will become additional victims of the coronavirus crisis.
Local news has been funded primarily by the advertising of independent local retail businesses. But as local retail has struggled, cut its ad budgets and all too often gone out of business, most local newspapers across the country have had to cut costs, usually by reducing staff, to stay in business. It's a recipe for failure because when staffs are cut, good journalism isn't possible and readership quickly evaporates.
We are determined not to let that be our fate. This community needs the Palo Alto Weekly and PaloAltoOnline.com.
Our ask is simple: Please join your many neighbors and support the work of our staff in bringing you the local news. For as little as $5 per month, you can make a difference. Go to PaloAltoOnline.com/subscribe to get your subscription membership started.
Thank you, and best wishes to all of you doing what's needed to support each other and to get through this difficult time.
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.