In theory, this should be the golden age of news. It’s hard to think of another time in recent history when timely, accurate information was more important than now, when it seems the entire …
In theory, this should be the golden age of news. It’s hard to think of another time in recent history when timely, accurate information was more important than now, when it seems the entire world — all the way down to our little community — is changing daily in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. As panic, anger and even malevolence fuels the spread of misinformation, we all need sources we can trust.
And there’s plenty of data suggesting that people have increasingly been turning to news outlets for the latest on this new disease. For instance, pageviews on the Tribune’s website have risen by nearly 50% since COVID-19 reached Wyoming.
It might seem to logically follow, then, that news outlets are in a strong position amid this public health and economic crisis. But that is not the case.
Just like the overwhelming majority of businesses across Park County, Wyoming and the U.S., newspapers are hurting.
Papers in Buffalo, Casper, Cheyenne, Evanston, Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, Torrington, Lingle, Guernsey, Pinedale, Kemmerer and Billings are all among the papers across the region that have recently made the tough decision to cut salaries and/or staff.
At the Tribune, we’ve been fortunate that our staff and salaries remain intact, backed by owners who believe this paper must continue to serve our community — especially in this crisis. But while their resolve and support will be critical to getting us through this difficult chapter, the Tribune is ultimately a business that needs your support, too.
Like many other media outlets, we’ve been making all of our coronavirus coverage available for free online to everyone, with no subscription required. Although that comes at a cost to us, we feel we have an obligation to share what we know about this pandemic with as many people as possible.
But contrary to popular belief, we do not reap a windfall each time someone scrolls through a few advertisements on an online story; that’s why a media outlet’s bottom line can sink even as its readership is soaring.
For a telling example of how un-valuable clicks can be, consider this: When the magazine Mother Jones published an 18-month-long undercover investigation into a private prison contractor in 2016, the piece drew in more than a million readers. Surely that resulted in a massive payday, right? No.
As Mother Jones executives later explained to readers, the banner ads that ran alongside the story netted a mere $5,000 — covering less than 1.5% of the outlet’s costs in producing the piece.
It’s a similar story for the Tribune: It takes much more than clicks to pay for the work that we do on a daily basis.
One way you can help is by subscribing. Although subscriptions are a relatively small part of our revenues, they are vital to our mission, right along with the news tips and general feedback we receive from our readers.
When someone subscribes, we know it’s usually not an endorsement of everything that’s appeared on the pages of this paper. But we do take it as an affirmation that what we’re doing is serving a purpose for you, our readers, and that you believe in the mission of local news.
Just as importantly, a subscription is another indication to local businesses that the Tribune has a dedicated group of community members who are reading stories, checking out pictures and looking through ads. Because while our readers help steer this paper, it’s our advertisers who enable us to keep going. Like every other media outlet, ad dollars are our biggest source of revenue by far — and right now, many businesses are being forced to cut back on their operations and, in turn, their advertising. When our area’s stores, contractors, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and business professionals take a hit, we suffer right alongside them.
Included in today’s paper you’ll find a special insert, titled “Support Powell Life.” It lists many of the local businesses that are still open and serving our community amid the pandemic.
We hope that, even during these tough times, you can find a way to continue to support our business community. Because we truly are all in this together.