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Here to inform; here to help

Rick Thomason, Publisher • Mar 22, 2020 at 7:00 AM

Trying times.

Uncharted waters.

A new normal.

All the clichés you’ve heard over the past few weeks ring true today and will ring true for weeks and probably months to come. That isn’t alarmism. It’s reality.

Our immediate reality at the Johnson City Press is that our job — to deliver you the most comprehensive local news product — is more important now than ever. We take the reality and responsibility seriously as do our brothers and sisters across the globe who work every day to keep you informed.

My — our — pledge to you is that through this crisis we will continue to bring you a daily news product filled with relevant stories from around our region and, yes, from around the globe. Beyond reporting the numbers and latest information about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and efforts to contain it, our newsrooms will bring you stories on ways to cope during these difficult days to come. Some will be practical advice from local experts. Some will be uplifting and meant to bring hope. Some will be simply to make you smile because, let’s be frank, we could all use a smile right now.

Supporting our advertisers

But this newspaper is far more than a news product. We deliver messages from hundreds of advertisers every month. They understand that, while our circulation may have declined, our readership is higher than ever between our print products, our e-edition and our online presence. You’d probably be surprised to know that the Johnson City Press averages more than 2 million page views every month at johnsoncitypress.com.

The struggles of businesses across the country are well documented. Some are scaling back hours. Some limiting access. Some going online only. Some, in the case of many food establishments, are carry-out or drive-thru only. Most sad, some are closing. Even more upsetting is the stark reality that some quite likely will never reopen.

Our single question to our business community is simple: How can we help?

A strong business community serves as the backbone for a strong city and region. In a weakened economy such as we have now, supporting local business is more important than ever. Between our network of newspapers and our digital agency, NET360, we can support you with creative campaigns and a broader distribution of your message than you probably think is possible. And the readers of our print and digital products are well-informed, highly-engaged members of this community — exactly the audience advertisers need to reach.

So again, how can we help? What message do you need to send? Is it a new message that conveys a new normal — even temporary — for your business and your customers? Do you need help recruiting new talent? (Yes, some businesses and companies are hiring.)

Let us know how we can help. Your success is critical.

Recent questions

Let me address three questions we have been asked about our products or operations over the last few days:

1. “Where’s my (insert store name) insert?!?!”

Our phones lit up Wednesday morning with this question. Folks were doggone angry … at us. But starting last week, a handful of advertisers began canceling their weekly inserts (that number continues to grow, incidentally), grocery stores among those. Frankly, the grocery stores canceling surprised us most. Folks still need groceries. If you want your inserts back in your newspaper, I suggest contacting the store managers. Enough calls may convince them to ask their corporate offices to reverse course.

2. “What are you doing to keep my newspaper clean?”

Our newsprint arrives in multi-ton rolls that are individually wrapped. We run newsprint on a first-in-first-out basis, meaning the newsprint you are receiving now actually arrived in our building 60-plus days ago. It’s also important to know that during the production process, no hands touch the newsprint before it is wrapped for shipment. Oh, and our newsprint is all produced on shore; none shipped in from overseas. Inside our building, we have stepped up cleaning procedures during our production process. Our presses and our inserting machines are wiped with disinfectant before and after each press run. It is a point of pride that we keep these machines and areas clean during normal operations, but we have implemented exponentially higher cleaning standards going forward. And anybody — no matter the department — who arrives for work exhibiting signs of illness is immediately sent home.

3. “What if I want to subscribe?”

The news now is more important than ever, and we want to bring this to you daily by carrier home delivery, or by our e-edition. The e-edition is a replica edition of the newspaper, meaning it looks just like the print edition, but it’s accessed digitally giving the subscriber access on a variety of platforms and at the convenience of the subscriber.

Contact us

Your news product should bring you the news you need. We are open to your ideas for stories. Please send those story ideas (and contact information if you know someone we should specifically speak to) to [email protected]

If you are a business owner or manager and need help getting your message out, contact your advertising rep or email Advertising Director Richard Clark at [email protected] to get pricing designed to be effective and, most importantly right now, affordable.

For circulation inquiries, including subscriptions to the print or e-edition, email Circulation Director John Quaintance at [email protected]com.

A final word

We consider it a true privilege to be trusted and invited into your home daily. Equally, we consider it a true privilege to serve and support our community every day. These are privileges we do not take lightly and pledge that we never will.

Please stay safe and do your part to support efforts to keep this viral menace at bay while also doing what you can to support your business community.

Rick Thomason is publisher of the Johnson City Press and president of its parent company, Six Rivers Media, LLC. Reach him at [email protected].