Two southern Minnesota newspapers have taken the unusual step of launching a GoFundMe campaign to stay in business.
At a time when local newspapers are struggling with a mixture of rising costs, and declining circulation and advertising income, the Dodge County Independent, of Kasson, and sister newspaper, the Steele County Times, of Blooming Prairie, have taken their funding appeal direct to the people.
"Our goal through our GoFundMe campaign is to bring awareness to people that local newspapers like ours, is an important product to the life of the local community and that newspapers are keepsakes and are our history for generations to come," the newspapers say on the GoFundMe page.
"We are fighting to stay alive because we are committed to the communities we serve. We believe in what we are doing and the impact of what we are doing is for the people of these communities.
"Everyone plays a critical role in keeping the local newspaper operating. In today’s world, it is costly to keep the newspapers alive. The cost of printing and postage only has gone up. Everyday expenses keep increasing faster than ever. Newspapers are being forced to reduce staff members while the remaining staff members increase their workload just to ensure that the community is being covered for stories."
Rural Minnesota has seen several newspaper closures in recent years. Just this week, The Warroad Pioneer published its last edition.
It's part of a wider national trend of newspapers closing across the U.S., resulting in less coverage of local politics and a less informed citizenry.
Salon reported this past November that the U.S. has lost one in five newspapers since 2004, around 1,800 in total.
While the GoFundMe campaign by the Kasson and Blooming Prairie newspapers is hoped to generate some extra revenue – so far raising $1,360 from a $50,000 goal – both papers say that if locals want to support them fully, they should subscribe to the papers, and run classifieds for garage sales, and wedding, anniversary and birth announcements.
"Businesses can begin and continue to advertise in their local community newspapers ... community members can encourage their friends and family to read the newspapers and employees can encourage their bosses to buy an ad, whether it’s for the local honor roll, or for any kind of advertisement as well as subscriptions for their employees."
"If it wasn’t for newspapers, especially a local small community newspaper, we would not have the true local news that matters more on our Mainstreet than in Washington," they conclude. "We have the ability to make a difference before our community is without a newspaper."