These are trying times. The Black Hills Pioneer turns 144 years old in June. As the oldest, continuously operating business in the West River Dakota Territory, our newspaper has survived a lot of turmoil. The settlement of this area, the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Great Depression, World War II and numerous other wars, and even the internet and digital age. You, as our readers, have been with us through it all.
When times are uncertain, it’s more important than ever to be calm, use caution, practice compassion with our neighbors, and communicate the facts to our community. It is also our duty to continue to hold governmental officials accountable to the people.
And now we are facing the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have made adjustments so that we can continue our critical coverage of school board, city council and county commission meetings in the Northern Hills and state press conferences. We have asked our staff to work from home if possible, so that we can limit exposure to COVID-19 virus. Our reporters will be attending meetings in person, listening on-line, by phone conference, or through other means if necessary, in order to continue to report on the doings of our governmental bodies. We are, after all the representative of the people.
Like all businesses we are seeing a disruptive reduction in revenue. We are keeping as many of our staff employed as we possibly can. We are saving money by reducing our page counts, going to black and white printing rather than color if we can, and identifying other areas where we can be more efficient. All while not reducing any of our news coverage or distribution.
Some of you may ask why we don’t just switch to a digital edition right now? We do already produce an E-edition, which is an exact replica of our print edition, and has nearly 500 paid subscribers. We are also putting every COVID-19 story on our website, with full and free access to everyone, because we feel it is critical for every person to have access to this information. We are seeing that web traffic skyrocket. But we also have to remember our senior subscriber base. And that also happens to be the exact demographic that’s at the most risk of serious jeopardy during this pandemic. The vast majority of those folks either don’t use or have ready access to the internet, or just flat don’t want to consume their news in any other manner than the hard copy delivered direct to their door. So we will oblige that demand as long as we are able and keep delivering the news to over 12,000 print readers in the Northern Hills.
By continuing to work together and making informed decisions we will survive this challenge and come out stronger on the other side when it’s through. Our democracy demands journalism. Our free society demands an independent press. The work we do here at the local newspaper relies on the support and generosity of our readers and advertisers to keep doing what we do. Thank you so very much for your continued support.
Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. Please remember, we are there with you.
Calm. Caution. Compassion. Communication.
Letti Lister, President & Publisher,
On behalf of our entire amazingly dedicated staff.
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