From The Aspen Times publisher: Want to help local journalism? Here’s how….
The Aspen Times
Since 1881, The Aspen Times has been covering local news in Pitkin County and the Roaring Fork Valley.
We’ve been through times when advertising was coming in on the phone lines and faxes so furiously that sales executives hardly had time to leave their desks for fear of missing an ad sale; and we went through 2008 where we saw our revenue drop by about 50%, never to return to pre-2008 levels.
In recent years, we’ve been fortunate to have consistent years that mirrored the success of the businesses in our community. For at least the past year, we’ve considered how we could ask our readers to support local journalism and we continue to seek sustainable business models.
And then COVID-19 came in like a wrecking ball. For all of us.
The pages of The Aspen Times mirror directly the economic pulse of our businesses. We know our little valley is hurting — deeply. We share that pain. We also know that so many of you — our readers — have reached out to say, “How can I help?”
While many news organizations across the globe are publishing their last editions, eliminating print days and pushing their content online only, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Most companies have been forced into layoffs, furloughs, reductions in pay and hours and elimination of some benefits. We are not immune. Yet, we are as committed now as ever to tell the stories our audiences cannot get anywhere else in the world: local journalism.
And while outsiders often like to claim that The Aspen Times is part of a big corporation, the truth of the matter is that we are a family-owned company with fewer than 350 employees. Most of our sister papers and operations employ fewer than 25 people. We don’t have a secret savings account or a bailout that we’re holding as an ace up our sleeve. We’re searching for relief where we can find it, too.
So, how can you help? Of course we are always grateful for your calls, emails, texts and social media messages giving us story tips, feedback and support; we always want to have community dialogue sparked by letters to the editor and your engagement on our stories online.
We know that every single dollar counts right now and will put your donations to good work ensuring we are able to meet the payroll obligations for our team of incredible journalists. We have added a “donate now” button to our main navigation bar on the far right and you will also see a donation opportunity on our homepage top story (or you can go to aspentimes.com/donate).
There will be the naysayers who read this column and see it as a money grab to line my pockets or the pockets of the company. While that couldn’t be further from the truth (we will use donations for editorial payroll only), we only want you to donate if you believe in local journalism and believe in The Aspen Times.
We believe in our community and we will do everything we can to continue to support all of you. Anything you can do to support us is received with gratitude and our commitment to give you our best work day in and day out.
Samantha Johnston is the publisher of The Aspen Times and general manager of Colorado Mountain News Media West, which serves Pitkin, Garfield, Eagle and Moffat counties.