Downs Mail calls for £ 30,000 cash injection after ‘severe’ pandemic

A local newspaper has warned it may have to start charging readers unless it receives a £ 30,000 cash injection as a result of the ‘severe impact’ of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Downs Mail, which circulates fortnightly in the Maidstone and Malling area of ​​North Kent, appeals for donations from readers in order to maintain its “core belief” of providing a free news service.

The headline, which launched in 1997, says it has been hit by “reduced revenues” as a result of Covid-19, alongside what is expected to be a “sharp increase” in the cost of newsprint.

The Mail says it costs over £ 55,000 a year to print and distribute the newspaper, as well as around £ 14,400 each year to keep its news website up to date on a daily basis. However, the call for crowdfunding has so far raised just £ 648 to reach his goal.

An accompanying editorial says, “Over the years we have grown into a trusted, loved and respected community newspaper. And our core belief is that community news should be free to all of its readers.

“Despite much pressure over the quarter century of Downs Mail, we have managed to resist any pressure to charge you for the information service we provide.

“However, Covid still has a severe impact on our advertisers. Many are small businesses, like us, and this has currently significantly reduced our main source of revenue – ad revenue.

“In addition to the reduced revenues, the cost of the paper we are printed on has risen sharply with two price hikes this year and another large increase expected in January, estimated at around 30%.”

“As a small family business, we had to dip into limited reserves as government grants and support to our publishing industry were limited, barely covering running costs for the first month of foreclosure.

“To enable us to continue to provide quality journalism and to keep the newspapers and the website free, we ask for your help, making a donation so that Downs Mail remains a community asset and always free to all.”

The call was scheduled to end last Friday, but was then extended for a week.

Similar donation campaigns have been launched since the start of the pandemic by publishers and titles like Archant, the Liverpool Echo and the South London Press.

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