Effects of a blank page

Roughly 60 days ago, the team here at the House of News made the bold decision to publish our March 24 edition with a blank front page to send a message on what our community would look like without a locally owned neighborhood news source.

That decision was based on the loss of three key advertisers at the end of 2020 that put the financial future of the paper in serious jeopardy.
That message must have resonated because the response has been almost overwhelmingly positive.

Our circulation staff initially thought our printer, The Columbia Tribune, had made a horrific error. Readers soon began calling the office, alerting us to the supposed error. But internally, we made the decision to go on “radio silence” for 24 hours, from midnight Tuesday to midnight Wednesday, so by design those calls went to our voicemail.

Early Wednesday morning on the 24th, we received an email from the Kansas City Star asking for an interview. KMBC Channel 9 also called and did a piece that eventually found its way to CNN. Then the big guns came out to play. The Washington Post and The Huffington Post both wanted to speak to our team about that blank front page. Then The Seattle Times called, as they were doing a piece on the number of local newsrooms that had closed over the last 20 years. Thursday morning, March 25th, we received a call from David Bauder, a reporter with the Associated Press, an international news wire service. The world was literally knocking on our door and wanted to know who made the decision at this scrappy little weekly in Kansas City to publish a front page devoid of any news. After the Associated Press broke their story, it was picked up by almost 100 media outlets nationwide, including ABC News, US News & World Report and NPR.

Simultaneously, as the story spread further out from Kansas City, the donation button on the front page of our digital edition began to get clicked. A lot. Within eight hours of the story breaking locally, over $800 had been donated. By the end of the weekend, due to our story running in over 80 news outlets nationally, that number climbed to over $4,000. Of that amount, roughly $300 per month are recurring voluntary subscriptions.

Additionally, local businesses such as The Rieger Distillery and The Merc Co+op in Kansas City, Kan., kicked off advertising programs with our paper. Existing advertisers such as the Kansas City Museum recognized the importance of a locally owned community news source and expanded their ad buys with us.

On the banking front, after hearing we had been denied Round 2 PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) funding through the Small Business Administration, a Commercial Banking Officer with Landmark National Bank, who lives in the Pendleton Heights neighborhood, contacted us and worked aggressively to help us secure PPP funding when our initial application was rejected through our existing community bank partner.

After securing a verbal commitment from the owner of the larger grocery retailer indicating they would restart their ad program with us after suspending their ads in January, that commitment remains unfulfilled despite our best efforts in good faith to bring that business back on board.

While the future of The Northeast News looks much brighter than it did when Managing Editor Abby Hoover noted in her March 24 column that we were on a roughly 60 day trajectory to closure, the future remains unclear.

One thing that would help secure that future is if more local advertisers and ad agencies supported Community Journalism with extended ad buys instead of looking at locally owned newsrooms like we’re some kind of outdated, outmoded pariah. Note to the 20-something media buyers who think dealing with “Print Media” is beneath their station, name another locally owned news outlet where your client’s paid ad message can potentially reach 60,000 people with a single ad placement. Go ahead, we’ll wait.

To that end, as you’ll hear us say on our quarterly staff roundtable podcast, the best way to support our award winning Community Journalism outlet is to support the advertisers who support our local news efforts. Supporting those advertisers who support our mission to bring you community news you can use will help ensure not only the future of The Northeast News, but also that the Historic Northeast community will continue to have a voice on issues that directly impact our neighborhoods.

Want Northeast News articles sent straight to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
Enter your email address and click on the Get Instant Access button.
We respect your privacy

Comments are closed.

  • An open letter to our readers, advertisers and the Historic Northeast community

    May 4th, 2022

    From the Publisher of the Northeast News On July 1, 1998, Pinnacle Communications LLC assumed ownership of The Northeast News […]

    Buzz: The end of an era

    April 27th, 2022

    And just like that, the Chief Richard Smith era is over at the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department. No fanfare, […]

    News Dog Speaks: What happened to NoVA?

    April 20th, 2022

    People traditionally have short attention spans and short memories, something politicians like to capitalize on when speaking to key voter […]

    News Dog Speaks: Time for change

    February 23rd, 2022

    This critically thinking News Dog thinks a change in paradigms is highly necessary in how the City deals with the […]

    Buzz: Reasonable expectations

    December 29th, 2021

    The News Dog would like to talk a little about Community Journalism and reasonable expectations. When a citizen picks up […]

    The time for strong neighborhoods is now.

    November 3rd, 2021

    In 1995, Historic Northeast Kansas City boasted one of the strongest coalitions of neighborhood associations in the city. Under the […]

    Northeast News secures more Awards in Missouri Press competitions

    September 29th, 2021

    Once again The Northeast News came away from the annual Missouri Press Association Convention at the Elms Hotel in Excelsior […]

    Shoot, don’t shoot: A Day in the Life of a KC Cop

    August 31st, 2021

    Recently the News Dog was invited by the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department (KCPD) to participate in their officer-involved shooting […]

  • Marriage: A Bad Idea

    August 18th, 2021

    Lexi GarciaEditorial Assistant One of the many things people think about when they get into relationships is whether or not […]

    The coronavirus is far from over

    August 11th, 2021

    by Tatum Goetting The COVID crisis is not over, and Missourians should not act as if it is. We’re tired […]

    The Northeast community should care more for its high school facilities

    August 4th, 2021

    by Corbin Smith For many high school students, sports are an integral part of their lives. Some students even rely […]

    BUZZ: Parks conditions worst in 30 years

    June 16th, 2021

    Absolutely shameful. The abject laziness and uncaring attitude exhibited by KCMO Parks and Rec Employees charged with keeping Kessler Park […]

    Pet ownership comes with responsibilities

    May 26th, 2021

    Nikki Lansford Editorial Assistant If you’re an avid Facebook user who consistently peruses any page pertaining to the Northeast, then […]

    Mayor Q’s Corrupt Cronies Volume I

    May 26th, 2021

    Once again, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has shown his true, City-Charter-shredding, open-meeting-violating colors by deliberately making backroom deals with […]

    A lifeline for community news

    April 7th, 2021

    What was born in a “spit-balling” session during our weekly staff meeting discussing how to drastically increase revenue lost when […]

    The Walmart-ing of Community News is why locally owned community newspapers are struggling.

    March 24th, 2021

    The scene is repeated frequently across America. A new Walmart store opens in the community and a giveaway is held […]

    Inching toward local control

    January 13th, 2021

    On December 17, just prior to the City Council’s holiday recess, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas filed a resolution with […]

    “Gifts” from King Frank and the Legislators

    December 9th, 2020

    Yep, you read that right, the Christmas display sponsored by the Jackson County Parks Department down at Longview Lake was […]

    Where the sun don’t shine

    November 11th, 2020

    This community-minded NewsDog is hoppin’ mad and no, it has nothing to do with the results of last week’s Presidential […]

    Missing In Action

    October 14th, 2020

    Oh-where-oh-where has Jean Peters-Baker gone, oh-where-oh-where can she be? Where’s Waldo? This civics minded News Dog would certainly like to […]

  • Northeast Newscast

  • Faces Of Northeast

  • Remember This?

  • Want articles sent directly to your inbox each week? Subscribe below!
    We respect your privacy and will not distribute your information.