Friday, April 09, 2021

Donations pour in for Kansas City, Mo., weekly that ran a blank front page to remind readers of its community value

Publisher Michael Bushnell (left) and Managing Editor Abby Hoover in their office with their paper.

Donations poured in to Kansas City, Mo., weekly The Northeast News after the newspaper took a bold step: On March 26, it left the front page blank on the print edition and didn't post any news online or answer office phones for 24 hours.

The move was meant to remind readers of what they'd miss if the paper folded, managing editor Abby Hoover wrote in a column inside the paper. During the pandemic, the paper lost several major advertisers that had been spending $2,700 a month. Unless something changed, the paper could stay open for about another 60 days, she wrote. Hoover reminded readers of the free, hyper-local content the NE News has provided—in general and during the pandemic—and that no other source would likely take its place if it folds.

The stunt provoked an outsized response. "In the past week, the 89-year-old newspaper has received more than $3,000 in pledged donations, including one from Florida after the blank front page received national attention," David Bauder reports for The Associated Press. "A handful of new advertisers have emerged, along with other ideas to keep the Northeast News afloat" according to publisher and co-owner Michael Bushnell.

"We never expected this to blow up like it did," Bushnell told Bauder. "In the end, thank God it did."

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