Earlier this week, we asked KPA newspapers what all they are doing or have planned in operating during the COVID-19 outbreak. Here are responses from several around the state,
Chris Evans, The Crittenden Press, Marion, KY
The Crittenden Press has responded to the pandemic in many ways, perhaps the most notably by hosting local video news conference each Friday with community leaders. It has received a great deal of traffic as we post it to all of our social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and YouTube. We have sold sponsorships for each news conference.
The printed editions of the newspaper and shopper are struggling to keep advertisers engaged as almost everything is closed. Our advertising circulars have been pulled by stores like dollar stores and groceries because these retailers do not know what will be on their shelves tomorrow, much less how they can plan for an insert that has to be printed and delivered 2 weeks later.
We have a small staff, and most are working from home. Allison and I are manning the office on a rotation, but walk-in traffic down to almost nothing. Otherwise, it’s somewhat business as usual because these are exactly the times for which we are built and thrive.
The electronic platforms are all seeing an uptick in traffic and we’ve found some advertisers who are willing to promote what they are doing on our sites.
We, too, are in a survival mode on the business side, but there’s little time to count nickels right now because as the town crier of community, we are pledged to keep crucial, reliably consistent and verified information on the streets.
One more thing I forgot to mention… we have been podcasting government meetings in there entirety because – although they’re still open – no one is attending public meetings.
Hope this helps!
Forrest Berkshire, The Kentucky Standard, Bardstown
Newsroom of The Kentucky Standard:
We have lifted the paywall on all Covid-19 related stories.
We are working from home when at all possible.
We compiled a list of restaurants that are still serving curbside and published it free as a news report.
We also just kept a running list of all the closures/adjustments on one post so that it was a constant url that people could go back to (with subheds). We did that to provide a one-stop spot for readers to find impacts, rather than having to search through different websites/Facebook pages/ We figured it would be more convenient for readers. to have all that info in one spot that they could revisit throughout the week.
Regina Catlett, Sebree Banner/Sturgis News
At both Sebree and Sturgis, we are focusing on the impact this pandemic is having on local services. Because we come out just once a week, residents are already keeping up with the state and national reports, but locally, we are writing about cancellations, hour changes, services that may be on hold or that have changed their schedules due to the coronavirus and the Governor’s recommendations/mandates.
Nearly every article we ran last week related to “social distancing,” closures, business changes and how to contact county, local and state agencies for services.
This week we will have a story about the impact on the funeral homes, visitation, etc.
The only public meetings being held are the fiscal court meetings and school board meetings which we will attend. All other public meetings we have scheduled through the second week of April have been canceled.
We have no advertising to speak of.
Jay Nolan, Nolan Group Media – Beattyville Enterprise, Berea Citizen, Jackson Times Voice, Jackson County Sun, Manchester Enterprise, Mountain Advocate/Barbourville, Pineville Sun-Courier, Booneville Sentinel
All 8 Nolan Group Newspapers have removed paywall for two weeks so all members of community can get updates FREE as they are issued by local officials. We are basically providing a voice, and notifying public about city and county events, when no one else is.
Dennis Brown, Lewis County Herald
Here is a sample of what I am doing . . . Most likely about the same for every community newspaper right now.
I have multiple contacts daily with our judge-executive. We’ve done Facebook live interviews and carried the complete Day of Prayer event on Facebook live. (Extensive use of texts and Twitter for local emergency declarations.)
A full page of COVID-19 each edition along with all the local stories on page one and other pages.
Multiple stories posted online every day. Paywall removed for any COVID-19 related story. Daily push to slow the spread, flatten the curve, wash your hands . . .
I have daily contact with every elected county official and almost daily contact with Frankfort officials.
Multiple story interviews with school superintendent for constantly changing stories on school calendar, meals, sports, NTI . . .
He coordinates with me to release information on the district website to allow me to write a story to break at the same time.
(Within the past three days I’ve received public praise from judge-exec, superintendent and other officials for our coverage and ability to quickly get information to county residents, I can send you a clip from an interview that aired on radio.)
This morning (no church services for most Lewis County churches) I met for over an hour with the judge-executive and superintendent for the latest local information. We go to press in the morning.
(Some of these things overlap with my radio duties.)
As Lewis County Emergency Management Deputy Director (volunteer) I have also spent many hours assisting the county during this crisis.
Sharon Burton, Adair County Community Voice
We are not putting articles behind a paywall that pertain to COVID-19. I think the most important thing we are doing is running a listing in print as well as a page online that reports what businesses are doing. If they are closing, offering curbside, reduced hours, etc. We are running this at no charge. (obviously if they want to run something larger they may do so as a paid ad.)
We have a graphic on our website that links to all articles we have published pertaining to COVID-19 in one place and we have a separate graphic that has a listing of all business announcements (at no charge). They are at the top of the page on a desktop. Sadly, I have not been able to get my supposed IT guy to tell me if that can be changed on the mobile version so right now you have to scroll way too much to get to it by mobile.
Jeff Jobe – Jobe Publishing, Barren County Progress, Hart County News Herald, Edmonson News, Edmonton Herald News, Russell Springs Times Journal, Monroe County Citizen, Butler County Banner
We are already sharing editorials, facts from each of our communities. I have removed paywalls, even making my font size bigger because of the increase in demand for elderly shut ins.
Melissa Mitchell, Kentucky News Group – Carlisle Mercury, Bath County News Outlook, Flemingsburg Gazette, Maysville Mercury, Menifee County News, Robertson County Neqws
The Carlisle Mercury has published a special COVID 19 edition, and massed mailed it to every home in Nicholas County on March 14.
I am part of the COVID 19 Committee here in Nicholas County and will be doing live coverage of those meetings with the Director of Wedco weekly.
We are working on doing live feed interviews with the local officials, we are helping the funeral homes do live streaming of the funerals per the family request to broadcast the services due to the restrictions.
We are working on articles to help keep the public informed with what is taking place in the communities and posting as much information we can on our Facebook pages, website.
We are helping restaurants post their meal plans they are offering.
I am working closely with Judges and Mayors to keep the community informed with daily updates.
Rumors have been running wild and we have been doing everything we can to post things and increase live coverage to keep the public informed.
We have closed the office to traffic, everyone is still working, and stepping up their performance to ensure the safety and well-being of others.
We have had numerous positive responses with the coverage, special edition and live videos that we are working on. The Community is tuning in and appreciate the updates.
At The Carlisle Mercury, we are doing a variety of Live streaming segments “COVID 19 Team Nicholas County.” The segments range from 10-30 minutes long with an interview with officials, ambulance, schools and will be doing business owners. To let them speak on behalf of the coronavirus and how it affects them, along with what steps the officials are taking. We are getting a large following on the videos regarding this. The community is finding a calmness with doing these. We have a full week of scheduled interviews with various people/businesses and looking at doing these weekly for updates.
Jeff Vanderbeck – Appalachian News Express/Pikeville, Floyd County Chronicle & Times, Paintsville Herald, Hazard Herald
Editorial- most of our reporters are staying home and are looking at videos of meetings then calling with any questions they have. we are also keeping up with statewide and national news. We are pushing pushing people to our web sites to the Free cover -19 pages, see attached. These sites are update constantly. with local and regional information.
Circulation- we changed our policy to offer the web free with paid home delivery. Single copies are slipping because people won’t touch the racks and can’t get to some of the distribution locations. Overall we haven’t seen too much of a slip. We did cut back on weekly editions for now. All by weeklies are weekly and the three times a week is only two times.
Ads- we are pushing curbside pick up , home improvement pages, special sections, ethane than cover-19. Also attached for the kids how are locked down we put a coloring page in the papers and left a 6×4 banner ad for a sponsor. The artist said he will offer this free of charge to anyone who is interested.
He also produces a drawing video that we are selling a pre roll with, which we are putting on our web pages. I can send that too. Inserts are pulling but the businesses that are staying open we are working with diligently to explain what is happening in the market place.
We are telling our customers that other news is happening and the only place readers will get other news thane this dreaded crap is in our papers.
We run house ads to promote our web sites, restaurants who are advertising and the cover pages.
Mike Scogin, Georgetown News-Graphic
— we have lowered our paywall for all Coronavirus coverage
—we have offered free two-month subscriptions to anyone who is medically home bound.
—we are using various methods to communicate including the printed paper, our website, Facebook, Facebook Live and text alerts.
—this weekend we are planning to publish an informational section on the Coronavirus and mass mailing to every address in Scott County
—last weekend we posted our documentary “Leader of the Pack” on Billy Hicks to our YouTube channel free to give people something to do while quarantined.
We are considering free subscriptions to anyone who has lost their job.
Loyd Ford, The Lake News, Calvert City
Like everyone else we are on lock down. Our doors are locked but we are up and running with stories about the changes and effects of quarantine. Many of our rack locations are shuttered and we have important information on our printed pages. Stories about free meals delivered to school children and where Marshall County stands in the health department’s coronavirus response rankings and the local drive-in theater getting converted into an outdoor worship center for a local church. To make sure we are getting newspapers to people who may not otherwise get a copy we asked all five local pharmacies and the three McDonald’s restaurants in the county to distribute free copies through their drive-in windows as long as the quarantine lasts. They were glad to do it. I felt the circulation was more important than the money for the papers we are giving away. The Post Office may not feel the same way but we will deal with that when and if the time comes. These are difficult times and we must make the changes we need to continue to be the information leaders in our communities. I just wanted you to know what I was up to.’
Jane Ashley Pace, The Oldham Era, LaGrange
In addition to providing local information, The Oldham Era is also working on ways to provide our readers fun things to do in the paper each week during this time. In this week’s paper you’ll find two activity pages, a coloring page and a quarantine bracket in the sports section. We hope readers of all ages will take some time to complete the activities.
The coloring page illustrated by Best of Oldham winner Michael Prather is not only for you to decorate but to share on social media and hang up in your home and/or business windows to show you are on the #TeamOldhamCounty and #TeamKentucky train.
We want many to participate so as we go on walks in our Oldham County neighborhoods we can all look for the trains.
Additional copies of these pages will be available for download on our website, at newsstands throughout the county and at any Historic Main Street District business on Washington, Jefferson and Main Streets in La Grange so everyone in your family and neighborhood can participate.
These are just a few of the things we’re working on in addition to local news stories. Please follow us on social media and our website as we will continue to push out content in between our print issues.
Remember we’ll all get through this together.