We’ve reached the end. This is the last issue of the Chronicle.
In terms of our part of this story we are simply the bookend at the far end of the shelf. Mostly inconsequential, but here we are just the same.
Over the past two decades there have been too many publishers required to do what I’m about to do. Say goodbye. The prideful side of it is that nobody wants to be the last. Nobody wants to have this last word. Because deep down all journalists are crusaders at heart. We want to fight the good fight. We want to tell stories that matter. We want shine light on corruption and dirty politics. We want to be an advocate of the people.
But things don’t always work out like you plan.
Ultimately the job of journalists is to keep the people of our communities informed with correct information. Folks need to know what’s going on and we need to ensure that fiction gets cut off before it has time to fester into fact. Unfortunately, it’s gotten a lot harder to do that over the years. And as truth tellers go, it’s our job to tell you the truth now.
The Chronicle has been the place for the people of this area to get just that for a very long time. Long enough that it’s easy to assume that something that’s been around since 1894 will always be there. It won’t.
We live in a fast world. Print journalism is slow. It’s supposed to be. The slowness gives reporters a chance to double-check their facts and craft sentences that say what they’re supposed to say. This also makes journalism expensive. As it turns out, reporters like to be able to eat and pay their bills. Print journalism, in particular, is extraordinarily expensive to produce. This paper that you’re paying fifty cents for? It actually costs between eight and ten dollars to produce each copy. Yep. You read that right. Eight to ten dollars. For every single copy of the paper that we sell. Believe me I know. I’ve done the math.
This is the part where I need to tread lightly because this parting farewell could end up feeling like a bad break up letter. It’s not. But I’m not doing The Chronicle or the public any service by leaving some information out.
It could be argued that we are living in changing times and the closing of newspapers is simply part of the continuing move toward digital and television. That would be a true statement. But it also needs to be considered that far too often those digital and television outlets aren’t telling your community’s story. They’re not sitting in a school board meeting or hanging out in the courthouse or sharing what’s happening with your church’s Vacation Bible School. Local news outlets, like the Chronicle, do.
But at the end of the day bills need to be paid. You can’t expect people to work for free and Lord knows the printing press expects its check on time. That can’t happen when there’s not enough money coming in. I know I’m preaching to the choir here because if you’re reading these words then you’ve paid your share. You did your part. If you’ve been placing your ads in the paper, then you’ve also done your part. You’re why this paper has existed for as long as it has.
Except for the person who regularly drops slugs in our paper boxes instead of quarters. You need to go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done.
The truth is that The Atkins Chronicle and The Dover Times were operating in the red for some time. Advertising and subscription revenue has been on a steady decline for a very long time. It was through the dedication and the generosity of the Tyson family that you’ve had this publication as long as you have. The paper was on the verge of closing before we took the reins in a last ditch effort to turn it around. Our hope was by consolidating the papers and cutting expenses deeper than the bone, combined with some new energy and resources, we could at least break even until we could start rebuilding.
We could not.
As we saw the grim reality of a little money coming in verses a lot of money going out we were required to make the decision to cease publication. We didn’t want to accept it, but the truth was scratched out in front of us in red ink with a big negative sign.
All stories end, but not all stories end the way you want them to. And so we want to thank you all for our brief stay. Most of you have been kind. Some of you were a little cranky, but we want to thank you as well because you gave our short time here a little extra texture and a few extra stories to talk about over supper. But, mostly we want to thank those who have supported this paper over the years. You are a gift to this community whether you realize it or not.