A Virus is Among Us

Yet the Reader marches on

by Robert Boone

In light of so much attention being paid to coronavirus and its effects on our freedom, it is easy to forget that this has been a very important week for newspapers.  

Sunshine Week (March 15-21) celebrates the free press that was first codified in this country in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing that Congress shall make no laws abridging freedom of the press.  

With Sunshine Week in mind, the Reader would like to thank in advance federal and state officials for continued transparency in dealing with how best to stem the spread of this virulent new type of coronavirus (officially known as COVID-19).  

With the world in crisis mode due to the infectious disease and the many changes that have suddenly interrupted our “normal” lives, we at the Reader have grappled with how best to serve you, our deserving readers.  

As the owner-publisher of the last locally owned media outlet in the Twin Ports, I have always been more interested in putting out the best newspaper possible rather than the most profitable publication. Or as the legend on our cover says each week – the best paper money can’t buy.

We have already begun experiencing printing and distribution problems, as our current printer is closing down their production plant, and we will have to transition to a new printer.

This fast-moving crisis has complicated even more the difficult business of producing a relevant newspaper in the 21st century. With most of our advertisers shuttered for at least the short term future, we are braced for a significant loss in revenue.

We have talked here at Reader headquarters about how to meet the challenges we face, and we all agree that now, more than ever, the independent voice of the Reader is needed. Do we print bi-weekly rather than weekly? Do we produce an online version until things get better?

We don’t yet have the answers to those questions. What we do know is that we will continue to produce original content for our readers in some format, so thank you in advance for staying tuned. With changes in distribution forced on us by the closing of familiar gathering spots, we will soon have listed on our website (duluthreader.com) the locations where you can find your copy of the Reader.

Also stay tuned to our website for news of the virus and how it is affecting our nation, state and region. We plan to provide pertinent updates as we learn of them.

We also know that we have some very loyal supporters among the readers in our broad distribution area reaching along Wisconsin’s South Shore of Lake Superior, Minnesota’s North Shore to Canada and throughout the Iron Range. Consider taking an honorary “subscription” with a monetary donation to help support the Reader and the continuance of independent journalism. Think of us as your hard copy version of PBS or Minnesota Public Radio.

Or maybe you have more time than money and would like to volunteer in the distribution of the Reader. And if you have neither time nor money to share with us, perhaps you know of a great story that belongs in the Reader – send story tips to info@readerduluth.com. As others have said, together we will get through this crisis.

We appreciate your support in the past and look forward to a bright, sunshiny future together.