Dear Members and Friends,
Over the last few weeks, Ben Lanka, Editor of the Newark Advocate, has held informational talks on The Future of the Advocate. Five of us in the League attended the one at the Granville Public Library on May 21st.
We learned that the Advocate (and its affiliated papers in Granville and Pataskala) are not in imminent danger of disappearing, but the ever-declining percentage of the population that subscribe and the crash in advertising revenues over the decades paint a telling picture. The staff is greatly reduced compared to the past, and other cost-savings, such as reduced frequency of publication or pricing that relies on bundling, are being considered.
This picture is far from unique to Licking County. Many local newspapers across the country have disappeared in the onslaught of digital information, much of it for free. More and more people access the news through their mobile devices, which is also true of the Advocate’s readership. Over 33,600 follow it on Facebook while an estimated 20,000 readers per day see the print version. In fact, by measures of this and other online traffic to the Advocate’s digital pages, interest in the local news remains in high.
Since covering our first organizing meeting in August of 2017, the Advocate has been a good friend to the League in Licking County. It is it hard to imagine how we could have grown as we did and become so widely known without it. Here are some specific ways the Advocate has partnered with us:
- Published brief announcements of coming events
- Collaborated with us on the voter guide for the November 2018 election
- Wrote a detailed and balanced story about our candidates’ night ahead of the May primary
- Published several of my voter education columns – about gerrymandering, HR1, and recently, legislation to stop the take-over of “failing” schools from locally elected Boards of Education
Like us, the Advocate also promotes elections and voting. For example, the editorial board interviewed each of the candidates running in the primary for Municipal Judge and published profiles of each. Because the League is not allowed to profile judicial candidates due to an agreement with Judicial Votes Count, this was an especially significant service. The editorial board endorsed one Republican and one Democratic candidate.
Another recent article — on the Newark mayoral race—explained why that race is important but then declined to endorse either candidate, urging voters instead to study their options carefully before the fall election.
Licking County enjoyed a high profile at the recent LWV Ohio state convention due to winning the award for Voter Outreach. Our rapid growth and accomplishments are now well known in League circles across the state. When people ask me, “How did you do it?” my explanations usually include the use of social media and the press to build name recognition.
Losing our local newspaper, an essential part of this community for almost 200 years (!), would be a huge loss for the League but also for citizens in general. There is no other reliable source for local news. Recent stories about Newark City Council’s response to the homeless, and the continuing controversy over the future of the Newark Earthworks are the kinds of stories that hit closest to home and that we would miss if our local paper were to disappear.
Bottom line? Subscribe! The regular digital subscription is very reasonable, and for a limited time, you can get a three-month digital subscription for just 99 cents. Find the link at the end of the piece linked here.