Op/Ed

Editorial: A letter from the publisher

Thanks for asking!
Throughout the past two weeks, many of you have asked how you could help the Addison Independent. We appreciate your willingness to help, and, yes, every dollar we can raise will help us fulfill our mission to serve the community with timely, trustworthy news. 
We knew we would have to ask, but for the past three weeks far greater examples of need came to the fore. 
The community was quick to meet urgent needs for food and shelter for those who would suddenly be put out of work when COVID-19 forced the state to shut down thousands of businesses. We helped publicize the need, and were proud of the community when it raised $50,000 twice, in two separate funds. 
Days later, when the United Way of Addison County approached us to help promote a campaign to raise $100,000 for its member agencies, we were among the first to respond. Its success was overwhelming, and we continue to promote an additional matching drive for $40,000. And while other outfits have also raised the call for donations, we were busy planning how to provide our readers with daily updates via a series of newsletters sent to all subscribers — adding immediacy and depth of understanding for our readers during this fast-moving pandemic. 
Just in the past two and a half weeks, we’ve written more than 30 stories, created four new digital newsletters reflecting different aspects of the pandemic’s impact on our communities, posted videos and have tirelessly worked to provide our readers with the critical information needed during these uncertain times. 
We did so, in that order, because putting “first-things-first” to us means providing Addison County readers with the news they need when they need it. 
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That work has not gone unnoticed. We have received many grateful comments, including this email from Elizabeth Tillinghast Oettinger of Middlebury:
 
Dear invaluable Addison Independent, 
I just want to say thank you for your courage, commitment, and generosity in continuing to serve your community in this time of crisis. You could easily have gone into hibernation for the duration, but in contrast you are forging ahead, damn the torpedoes. I applaud your suspending the Monday edition: whatever it takes to keep going. 
You have my heartfelt thanks and respect.
 
Such comments raise our spirits more than you’ll ever know, so, first, let us acknowledge all your comments of support with our deep appreciation — and keep them coming!
But to the point of this letter, it’s true we have spent long nights figuring out how we were going to pay for it all, take care of our loyal employees, and still meet our critical mission to keep the community informed. 
With the closing of so many area businesses, our primary source of revenue — advertising — has fallen substantially, and is expected to remain far below our weekly expenses for the next 10 weeks. But unlike other businesses, we can’t close and hunker down. Our mission is to cover this story; to report how to take the necessary precautions to be safe; to report on how schools are going to function; to give daily health-related updates; and tell the stories that make us appreciate the unity and the strength of our small towns.
That takes our team of 25-plus employees working long days and far into the night. We did temporarily suspend the Monday paper to help cut costs, management has taken big cuts, we’ve had to furlough a few members of the phone book team and reduce a few hours at the Addison Independent. It’s been the first time I’ve had to reduce employee hours, or wages, or ask employees to go on furlough in my 42 years as a newspaper publisher. These are unprecedented times.
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How can you help? Please, if you’re not a subscriber to the Addison Independent, subscribe today. The $50 you pay for that annual subscription would be the highest compliment we could receive. Or buy a family member, friend or neighbor a subscription. The more area residents who read the paper, the better informed we all are — and the safer and stronger we are in so many ways.
For those loyal subscribers who have been so eager to help, our campaign strategy is to ask a little of a lot of folks to make a big difference. 
If the Addison Independent could encourage just 25 percent of our regular 7,000 subscribers (over 17,000 readers) to make a small contribution for the next 8-10 weeks, we’ll be able to pull through this financial hurdle and keep providing you with one of the best newspapers in New England. That’s asking a big number of our readers to participate, but even at $2 to $5 a week, it would make a very big difference.
We’ve created a donate button via PayPal on our website that makes it easy to decide how much you’d like to contribute. A recurring monthly gift (covering those 8-10 weeks) or a one-time gift will make the biggest impact. We would, of course, welcome bigger gifts to help fund the high level of journalism we deliver each and every week. Simply click the Donate button in the upper-right corner of this page.
With your help, we’ll continue to be here for you year after year, and we thank you for being here for us today.
Sincerely, 
Angelo Lynn, publisher

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