|CherryRoad Media map, adapted by The Rural Blog|
But local has its limits. Local ad and page designers are "a luxury that we can't afford," Gulban said. "And we've built our own circulation platform. That's entirely web-based so that we can have people in different locations serve circulation needs across markets." All printing is outsourced, but he said the company might build a plant because so many are closing: "We do believe that a printed product has to be part of the long-term solution" to the problems of local papers.
|Sites of two of the Texas papers discussed (Google map)|
Gulban's other example was the Hamburg Reporter, in Iowa's southeast corner. Fremont County "had a catastrophic flood in 2019 and basically half the town's population left, so the population is now 890. We have 132 print subscribers and two digital, but we just put the paywall up two weeks ago," Gulban said. But its ad revenue averages $9,200 a month, and "this is the best revenue per population of anything in our whole organization." The paper's mothership is the Nebraska City News-Press, across the Missouri River; the one person "who was basically doing everything" died last month, "so we have to figure out how to handle that. But the model here still holds. . . . We have one person who is about town, knows everybody, is able to do a lot of different things," Gulban said. Our vision, which is a little bit out there, is: If you want to advertise in Hamburg, Iowa, we're the place you should be doing it through, not through Facebook, not through any other technical solution. Because we know Hamburg, Iowa. . . . We want to leverage our local staffs and their credibility to drive revenue in this new digital world."