You may notice this edition of The Bridge is a bit thin.
We’ve had to go from our usual 24 pages to 16, part of the fallout from a financial situation we have been in for several months. Usually, we aren’t quite so public about our financial woes, but we are in a bind, and we need you to know about it.
You may have also seen the good news in the last issue of The Bridge that our application for federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit status was approved last month. That status is a big deal for us; it means that, among other things, The Bridge will be able to save money on postage and apply for grants so we can keep operating. This bodes well for our long-term future. In the short term, however, we’re financially squeezed.
Our advertising revenue has been down significantly in 2023. This follows a trend that has affected news organizations nationwide. While advertising has never fully covered the costs incurred in putting out this beloved little local paper, we are now relying on contributions from readers of The Bridge more than ever.
We have seen community newspapers such as the Hardwick Gazette — the place that trained me as a new journalist in the mid 1990s — have to make the tough decision to go fully online. The Waterbury Roundabout is a digital local news organization just three year’s old, run on a shoestring. It was created after the Waterbury Record published its last issue in March 2020. Many of our local papers are looking thinner lately. If we want that to change, we have to support local news however we can.
Despite our current short-term financial problem, we do have long-term plans. We will be eligible for grants specific to nonprofit independent media. We expect some of those grants could help fund reporters, so we can better cover Montpelier and towns beyond. Many of our surrounding communities don’t get any news coverage, or very little. And we haven’t yet covered what’s happening with the climate crisis the way we think it ought to be covered, among other big issues that deeply affect us at home. Funding for staff and reporters will allow us to provide more of that. That’s our long-term plan. But we have to bridge the gap between now and then.
If you’d like to help, consider the following:
- Donate. Go to montpelierbridge.org/donate and follow the prompts. Your donations are tax deductible.
- Subscribe. For $50 a year you’ll get The Bridge directly in your mailbox. Subscribe at montpelierbridge.org/subscribe-to-the-bridge.
- Take a look at who is currently advertising in The Bridge and patronize those businesses. Tell them you saw their ad in The Bridge.
- Consider advertising with us. We have both print and digital options and print/digital packages. Not only do ads support local journalism, but they are seen by 10,500 readers in every issue in central Vermont (and about that many more readers each month on our website). For details go to montpelierbridge.org/advertising or call 802-249-8666.
- If you’re sharing an event on our free events calendar, consider our new option where, for $25, you can make your event “sticky” and it will show up at the top of the online calendar page for that date.
- We just created an option to post press releases on our website for $25 each. We cannot print most of the press releases we receive, so this option raises a little money for The Bridge and gives organizations a way to get their messages to the public. To post your press release go to montpelierbridge.org/submit-press-release.
- Help us get the word out that we have digital advertising available for those who aren’t yet ready for a print ad. The prices are very reasonable, and we have a lot of flexible options.
- Help us get the word out that we need a digital advertising salesperson. We’re looking for somebody who’s digitally savvy and knowledgeable about the community who can help boost our digital ad revenue. If you know the right person, send them our way.
We hope you can help preserve local journalism through The Bridge, and we look forward to many more years of delivering community news. Thank you.
— Cassandra Hemenway, Editor in Chief
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