Highland-Bath Recorder Faces An Uncertain Future Pt.2
In Part One of this story, we spoke with Anne Adams, publisher of the Highland-Bath Recorder about the issues the paper if facing related to remaining in business past the month of May. In that story, she mentioned the Federal Payroll Protection Program, and I asked her about her experience with that, as well as other sources of financial assistance.
Those Federal lifelines, for anybody who’s been reading about them, have just been difficult for the Small Business Administration to administer. The SBA was underfunded for years before this happened, and now they’ve just been flooded with requests. And the rules keep changing, and it’s very complicated.”
“One of my biggest worries is for the small businesses who don’t even keep their books with a software program, like we use QuickBooks, but a lot of these small operations are still just keeping their books with a hand ledger. And (it) makes it very difficult for them to pull together the reports they need to file in order to take advantage of these Federal subsidies.
She continued, ”In addition for The Recorder, I have applied for, I’ve kind of lost track of how many grants that have been made available. Some of them through companies like Facebook that have a journalism project, or Google, some of them through other small business support groups across the nation or here in Virginia. So I’ve reached out to every single one I think we qualify for, and I hope to do a story next week, or soon, on my experience that will help other small businesses know where to look and what they’ll need to provide in order to take advantage of these opportunities to keep going.”
There are some “grassroots” ways of helping.
“We have a donation button on the top of our homepage. That’s one way. But there are a lot of small businesses that could still use advertising support, and we have dropped the rate on these 1/8 page ads, so if you can pitch and buy one of your favorite restaurants an ad, or even the nonprofit organizations, especially the Chamber of Commerce – you know, they really are struggling after the Maple Festival. Any of your favorite groups, it could be the Humane Society, the Fire Department, the Rescue Squad, some of the Ruritan clubs that really could use some support. You could buy them a little ad, you could also subscribe, or go ahead and add another year to a subscription that you have already. Any of those little things would help.”
I asked if The Recorder was exploring different business models in the future should these efforts not prove sufficient.
Yes, we’re exploring all kinds of options. Right now the idea is just to buy us some time to figure that out. But there have been suggestions ,such as becoming a nonprofit organization. There have been suggestions to go into an online only publication or even, you know, a twice a month or monthly publication, supplemented by online news. The problem is that, the way our industry works, we’re the newspaper of record for two counties. And that’s especially important for our local government because that means we qualify to publish their public notices. And those public notices are crucial to the community, in that they let people know if there is, you know, a tax issue coming up, a certain public hearing coming up. And if we publish even one less paper a year, we would not qualify to serve that need. In addition, it puts us in danger of losing our second class postage permit. And that would increase our mailing costs even further if we didn’t have access to that.” “So it’s complicated. But we are open to all sorts of ideas that our readers have been flooding my inbox with great suggestions and we’re not going to give up without a fight.”