As North Carolina has entered Phase 2 of it’s plan to “reopen” the state, the News of Orange County is also entering another stage. When the initial efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus were launched, and many businesses feared for their future, most community papers fell into doubt. While newspapers are considered “essential,” for decades now it has barely seemed that way with regard to the number of subscribers and advertising revenue.
The News of Orange’s survival is first dependent on its readers. Two months ago, Womack Publishing, which owns the News of Orange, appealed to community members to step up and continue its support of the hometown paper, and the community responded with open arms. Our circulation numbers are rising, which is almost unheard of in the newspaper industry.
This show of support only further endears the paper to the town it serves. As Managing Editor, I have sought to tell the stories of people who are making a difference in Orange County, whether it be a state representative and his nightly COVID-19 updates; or an Orange County Schools staff member’s efforts to make sure the district’s children and their families continue to have healthy food options available to them.
Your support has helped focus the paper’s attention on the plight of high school students, who have seen the finale of their 12-year school career hijacked by an invisible menace. Whether offering the perspective of a teacher giving lessons from a distance — written by a high schooler, by-the-way — or the perspective of a high school student learning from a distance, the News of Orange values its future and those who will be steering it.
The paper also gave plenty of ink to local businesses with a series of stories called Small Business Spotlight. These features gave a behind-the-scenes look at how restaurants, therapists, health care providers, a movie theater and more have navigated the coronavirus and the state’s shelter-in-place order, some with success, some with frustration, all with determination and compassion.
Many of these businesses are excited to soon be able to see their customers again, but will do so at their own pace. Some are ready to roll; others are still putting precautions in place.
This is where the paper is also hoping to move into Phase 2. As small businesses and local companies seek to get the word out about their plans, the News of Orange wants to help amplify that message. Subscriptions are the fuel to newspapers; ad revenue is the spark and oxygen.
I feel certain I’ve tortured that analogy, but we are ready to accelerate. And we want to help businesses get rolling again. Give us a call and we can discuss how that can happen.