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Another community steps up

Communities saving newspapers

Communities saving newspapers

Melanie Mazur was shocked when her friends from the Grocery Store in the small town of Bayfield, Colo., ran a subscription drive and were able to raise more than $2,000.

Until about three weeks ago, Mazur was sure the weekly newspaper she owns, the Pine River Times – which serves the community of Bayfield and is located in La Plata County, near the four corners of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah – was headed for imminent closure. But just when they were on the brink of shutting down, community members interested in buying or investing in the paper swooped in. Meanwhile, an anonymous donor paid two weeks’ worth of the paper’s printing bill, amounting to more than $1,900. For the time being, the paper that has a history spanning 24 years remains open. “We are printing, but basically on a week-to-week basis,” she said. “I’m selling half-priced subscriptions; we’re referring to them as our ‘leap of faith’ special.” According to the Durango Herald, the 1,800-circulation newspaper has received other donations including $150 toward the paper’s electric bill. Advertisers have also stepped up to the plate by purchasing half pages for $400. “So I’m hanging in there for now while talking with some potential buyers and investors,” she said.

This tale is reminiscent of another paper that was saved on the back of its community: the Birmingham Eccentric. Six months after the paper was slated for closure, it is still printing. According to a recent article in the Eccentric, the paper has generated 2,500 new subscribers since May and has boosted advertising. Despite this increase, the paper is still asking for more subscribers at a rate of $1.00 a week. “We want to continue serving you for at least another 131 years,” staff wrote.

While the Eccentric’s continual place in the world seems likely, the Pine River Times’ destiny is unsure. Yet if the paper were to follow the path of the Birmingham community, then perhaps another paper will see another tomorrow. “We just had too many people say we couldn’t close,” Mazur told readers in a recent article. “So I’m asking for those readers and companies who want to keep a local paper to consider helping us pay for it.”

–Katrina M. Mendolera

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