We went to press with our first weekly issue on Oct. 7, 2019, a little over nine months ago. Our business plan said we needed $375,000 in the bank.We had raised less than half that, so we knew we were taking a great big risk. But we felt we had two good reasons to go forward.
First, we had watched GateHouse Media lay off the last reporter at the Provincetown Banner. Second, we thought that if we could produce a truly high-quality newspaper, the kind of paper this amazing place deserved, the rest of the necessary start-up capital would follow. That hasn’t happened.
We’re not sure why. It’s not for lack of generosity from more people than we ever imagined would care. We give thanks every week for our big-hearted writers and artists, readers and advertisers, investors and donors, and friends whose moral support is beyond all accounting.
Maybe it’s because investing in a newspaper just sounds nuts. So much of the industry news is about how newspapers are over. Every week brings another report about their importance to democracy, yet no one has a solution to the economic challenge — the “headwinds,” as one potential investor put it.
We stand by our idea. We have researched the evolution of local newspapers and learned that independent small-town papers can be profitable, especially if readers and local businesspeople get behind them. We have a quirky and seasonal economy here, but one with an inspired mix of entrepreneurs, survivors, and generous spirits.
We had our first annual shareholders’ meeting when the Covid-19 crisis was new. What will you do? they asked. The answer seemed obvious to everyone on our team: keep going. We were not going to stop reporting on health, town governance, the business community, the waterfront, and the environment now.
But the coronavirus crisis is affecting us. That’s because our fate is connected to the health of all the other local businesses around us. And so many are fighting hard to make it right now.
With a smaller initial budget, we knew we’d have to stay lean. We have half as many people on staff as our plan called for at this stage. Now we need to add skilled people in order to survive.
We planned on launching a direct public offering in our second year to expand ownership of the newspaper widely in the community. But we need more time and money to get to that point. The amount is not astronomical: the price of about three Tesla Model S’s.
We’ve only just started on this trip, and we don’t want to turn back. It’s really not a moonshot. We’ve taken the first steps. Won’t some of you help us take a giant leap for local journalism?
For details, reach out to me, Teresa Parker, the publisher, at [email protected]