Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Readers save a small-town Michigan newspaper

Longmoore covers a public meeting in Saline. (Bridge photo by Jack Nissen)
And now for some heart-warming news from Michigan, where readers stepped up to save the local paper. The Saline Post is an online-only publication that has been the only source of news coverage for the town of 9,000 for the past five years. Bills were piling up for the one-man operation, so Tran Longmoore announced Aug. 5 that he was ceasing publication.

Within 20 minutes, Longmoore said that messages and calls began flooding in from readers, all offering support and asking what they could do to keep the Post alive, Jack Nissen reports for Bridge magazine, published by The Center for Michigan. Words weren't the only thing he got: the community started sending checks, too. "In 24 hours, Longmoore had enough money to keep publishing. Saline’s community newspaper had been saved by, of all things, the community itself," Nissen reports.

Sperling's Best Places map
At at time when some small newspapers are closing, Nissen wonders if the key to saving them isn't from "industry focus groups and page-view algorithms, but from readers themselves."

Longmoore said sometimes it's difficult to tell whether his work has an impact on the community, but locals say his presence is important. "When he was close to going out of business, I suddenly thought, 'How else would we know what’s going at city council meetings or the school district?'" said Lori Hall, who donates money monthly to the newspaper.

"By covering all these meetings and the field hockey team and the school board, you’re showing the community you are standing by them," Longmoore told Nissen. "You’re not just there to make money off of clicks. You’re providing a community service."

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