The Human Condition
By Martha E. Conway
(Madison County – May 13, 2013) This has been a tough year for the Courier. While it’s well-known that newspapers everywhere have been struggling for some time, our problem is less with the economic climate than one of an inability to find a full-time sales professional who can connect with community businesses to help them reach their goals.
This will be the last edition of the Courier for the month of May; co-publisher Margo Frink and I are taking two weeks off. We are going to use that time to more aggressively pursue a full-times sales manager and beef up our collections efforts on accounts receivable.
Margo and I have literally not taken an entire day off since beginning this adventure June 1, 2009 – settling instead for including our family in work as much as possible and treasuring “free” hours here and there amid 16- to 20-hour days.
We are in desperate need of a break.
When we went into business back in 2009, we agreed not to go into debt for this venture. We are lucky enough to be in the black and plan to continue that trend; however, this has been accomplished through our not earning paychecks for many, many weeks.
Being without disposable income has curbed our ability to travel our normal beats to report on government and community events. We have had to weigh decisions on whether to hit a board meeting against whether we would have enough gas to get the following week’s edition to newsstands.
These factors have led us to the following decision.
For June, July and August, we plan to print only on the first Wednesday of the month while readership is at its lowest, allowing us time to get our new sales manager trained and let them hit the ground running.
We think it important that people understand that a local media outlet such as ours is a necessary and beneficial community asset that needs and deserves to be supported.
* No other print media – or web outlet, for that matter – provides as much free space for community non-profits, libraries, organizations and churches as the Courier does.
* We continue to print engagements, weddings, anniversaries and birth announcements for free.
* We print more agriculture-relevant news than many outlets dedicated to the subject.
* We are the single largest scholastic supporters among media in the state, publishing every primary, secondary and post-secondary educational honor we can get our hands on.
* We have been leaders in pre-election voter education and coverage of local government.
* We have volunteer columnists who are second to none.
Margo and I recently toured a printing facility; the representative asked us several questions on how we handle different functions of the paper’s production. He seemed amazed every time we pointed at ourselves or each other.
Finally, I told him, “Listen. You name something that has to be done to get a newspaper out the door, and I will tell you which one of us is doing it.”
Margo and I live here, work here, and raised our families here; we care about Madison County and plan to do everything in our power to continue bringing the community these valuable news items overlooked by mainstream media, but we can’t do it forever. We are two people. We need our readers and submitters to patronize the businesses who appear in these pages and to whom we are extremely grateful for their faith and support, we need a reliable sales staff, and we need more advertiser support. Period.
If these things don’t happen, the Courier won’t be able to be here when your child is named prince or princess at the Madison County Fair, when they are named to the honor roll or dean’s list, to tell you what’s going on with your local government or to report on all of the other issues that affect a community with the unique rural character we have here in Madison County.
Martha E. Conway is vice president of M3P Media, LLC, and publisher of the Madison County Courier. She can be reached at 315.813.0124 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/marthaeconway or Facebook at facebook.com/meconway.
Deadlines will be as follows:
June 5 edition:
Legals – Midnight, Saturday, June 1.
Advertising – 1 p.m., Friday, May 31.
Editorial Content – 5 p.m., Thursday, May 30.
July 3 edition:
Legals – Midnight, Saturday, June 29.
Advertising – 1 p.m., Friday, June 28.
Editorial Content – 5 p.m., Thursday, June 27.
August 7 edition:
Legals – Midnight, Saturday, August 3.
Advertising – 1 p.m., Friday, August 2.
Editorial Content – 5 p.m., Thursday, August 1.
ALL CONTENT WILL CONTINUE TO BE POSTED TO THE WEBSITE ON AN ONGOING BASIS WITH NO APPLICABLE DEADLINES.