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MDDC Meets with Sen. Coons of DE

Today, MDDC executive committee met with Senator Chris Coons to discuss the industry and its needs during this time.  Here’s what we said. Local news media serves its communities every day and this is put into stark relief during times of crisis such as we are facing now.  COVID-19 has upended the lives – and livelihoods – of every person in the state.  Newspapers and their associated websites are essential to their communities.  Our focus nationally is to (1) preserve our business operations; and (2) ensure economic help for our members.  Our members are seeing advertising drop precipitously, events being cancelled, and receivables stretch out.  This means less cash flow and less revenue.  Our members are also lowering our paywalls, focusing on increasing coverage and managing a critical workforce.  That also means higher expenses and less revenue.  Newspapers and news websites are trusted and credible sources of information for their local communities.  MDDC’s readership survey (Fall 2019) showed that 77.65% of respondents thought that the publication rated Excellent or Good as a Source for Local News.  On the same scale, 68.74% rated the publication Excellent or Good for Trustworthiness.  No one else in the community is providing the news, analysis and information that the local newspaper covers in this time of crisis.

What we need:

Preserve our business operations now:

  • Clarify nationally that news media, including the production, printing and delivery chain, is an essential business.  There is a lot of confusion across the states and localities of the country on this issue and press associations (and thereby news organizations) are scrambling to pin this down and burning time and energy.
  • Ensuring supply lines for newsprint and other raw materials from Canada and elsewhere so that we can continue to print the newspaper.  Virtual networks are stressed and many people are turning to the printed paper for news.  We are seeing print circulation go up as well as page views.
  • Make sure the post office continues to operate and deliver our publications.  If we cannot deliver our publications, we cannot bill for the advertising contained in the print publication and that would be catastrophic for us.

Ensure economic help:

  • We must continue to operate, whether there is revenue coming in or not.  It’s our public mission.  Going under is not an option.  We will need economic support to continue operating, more so the longer the crisis continues.  Our members are manufacturers, printing a new product every day.  We should be one of the industries the federal government focuses on for bailouts.
  • Help us ensure that objective news and information will flow freely to our local communities by stabilizing our industry.

This message is being sent to Maryland’s delegation as well.

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