|The four-page edition was printed on thicker "bright|
white" newsprint for easier handling and retention.
Director, Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, University of Kentucky
A weekly newspaper in Kentucky is setting a great example for the rest of the nation of how to deliver reliable information about the new coronavirus.
After working through the weekend, The Cynthiana Democrat sent a special edition today to every postal patron in Harrison County, where the first case of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was confirmed Saturday. Another was announced Sunday.
The idea arose as Editor Becky Barnes traveled with Cynthiana Mayor James Smith and County Judge-Executive Alex Barnett on Saturday from a state Capitol press conference that Gov. Andy Beshear held to announce the first case.
Barnett said he told Barnes and Smith, "Let's get it in every mailbox in the county and we’ll come up with a way to pay for it."
Smith said, "We talked about what should be in there, and decided how it should go to every household in the county," which has 18,000 people and "probably 6,000 households."
|Becky Barnes, in 44th year at the paper|
Newspapers can reach everyone in their home counties quickly because postal regulations allow them mail up to 10 percent of their annual circulation in their home county to non-subscribers at subscriber rates. It's a way to build and maintain print circulation, but many papers don't take advantage of it.
|Harrison County (Wikipedia map)|
This is an example for the whole country. Printed community newspapers have a high level of trust with their readers, and are ideal vehicles to circulate reliable information on a topic that has become the subject of false or misleading online information and political talking points.
To make sure it reached everyone in the county, Barnes said, the paper went beyond the usual sample copying, sending (at extra cost) papers to patrons of post offices that are in other counties but serve Harrison County residents. It also provided copies to Harrison Memorial Hospital, which first treated the first patient found to have the disease and draws patients from adjoining counties.
So, who's paying for the printing and mailing of the special edition? Local officials are looking into funding sources, but say they will come up with the money if they have to. "We asked the postmaster if he could bill us later," Smith said. "We told Becky that, as a city, if the money doesn't come from other sources, the county and the city would figure out how to pay."
Smith concluded, "Hopefully, we're setting some examples for other communities."