When you hear of print newspapers around the country closing their doors forever, it can be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the cost of producing, printing and mailing the publication has increased beyond the income that can be generated from advertising or subscriptions. Sometimes competition from online news sources has proven to be too much. Sometimes the publication has been sold to a company that decides it is not profitable enough.

From what I can tell, the most common reason for a newspaper to close down is because it can no longer find qualified people who are willing and able to put in the hard work and long hours for little pay and few benefits. 

This last scenario is probably the biggest risk for the Western Wayne News, especially lately. We rely heavily on a small team of people to get the paper out every week, and that team has gotten smaller in recent months through retirements, health challenges and other departures. The people who leave us are uncommon and hard to replace; we have not found a large pool of local people with a passion for community news, skills and experience in journalism or newspaper administration, the ability to stay focused and organized with a firehose of information coming at them at all times, and a willingness to be woefully underpaid with no health insurance benefits.

We have been working to expand what we can offer to attract and retain qualified people. That includes slowly raising our subscription and advertising rates, adding more employment benefits, simplifying and streamlining our operations, seeking out new funding sources, and building partnerships with local and regional media organizations.

But it feels important to say that we still don’t have the people we need to do this in a sustainable way. Our team is always at risk of burnout, and we don’t take it for granted that the paper will be able to stay in print publication forever.

I’m not here looking for your sympathy. I’m writing this in hopes that you’ll be patient with us as we figure out how to operate with an even smaller team, and so that you can be on the lookout for folks who might be a good fit to join us. We need to hire or contract people with broad skillsets that span finance, customer service, sales, administration, writing, research and related areas. We need them to be great at prioritizing and multitasking, comfortable with technology tools and driven by a zeal for keeping the community informed. And we need them soon. More information about our full- and part-time positions is available online at wwn.to/jobs. Thank you.

Chris Hardie is owner and publisher of the Western Wayne News.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 19 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Chris Hardie is the owner and publisher of the Western Wayne News.