Trainor: Supporting local journalism from a publisher’s perspective
Having my first byline in the newspaper is intimidating. I am not a writer and focus on the business aspect of the paper, but in times like this, it is important to address the community.
Life is changing at such a fast pace. Sometimes it seems like we don’t know what is going to happen in an hour, let alone tomorrow. Schools are closed, businesses have shut down and the resorts aren’t operating, all due to the novel coronavirus.
With everything that’s going on, the Sky-Hi News is seeing its highest web traffic numbers, as people are turning to local news sources to keep up-to-date with our ever-changing environment. People have an appetite for information and information right now, so local journalism is as important as ever!
This year marks an important milestone for Sky-Hi News as we embark on our 75th year of publishing in Grand County. Our first publication date was Nov. 1, 1945 and we have continued to provide quality, local journalism ever since.
I am in awe of the changes in those 75 years and extremely proud to be at the helm as the newspaper charges into the next decades.
To say things have changed in 75 years would be an understatement. Business operations have made leaps and bounds, but news never stops and neither does the need to keep our community informed.
Last year, the Sky-Hi News did a four-part, in-depth feature on mental health in Grand County. This series resulted in more community conversations as well as an increase in use of mental health services. While we are so proud of the work we did, it took a lot out of us as a staff. To expect our three-person editorial staff to continue to produce the twice-weekly paper and produce an in-depth series was work. Hard work. Long work. Important work.
Over discussions about sustainable journalism in Grand County, we realized there are people in the community who want to support local journalism but could only do so by reading the paper. Because of that, we have introduced a new function on our website that allows readers to offer donations.
True, we are a for-profit business and donations are not tax deductible. That said, all donations will be used for editorial purposes only.
Some may think this is a money grab to line our big “corporate” pockets or a desperate cry for help. Whether we receive donations or not, the Sky-Hi News will continue to publish a twice weekly paper. You don’t have to donate. It’s as simple as that.
The money donated will be used for expanded editorial coverage and stays in this county. With added funding, we can work on some bigger, out-of-the-box projects we have talked about covering in depth. The money could be used for things like:
• Producing a podcast about Grand County history and crime
• Paying for more court documents and open records to keep citizens informed
• Doing an in-depth series on housing, wildfires or other issues facing this county
So why should you donate?
The answer for me is easy! This company and this staff are passionate about this community and want to give more than we have the capacity to.
The Sky-Hi News is owned by Swift Communications, but readers should know all business decisions are made locally by our staff of five. We live in these communities, spend our paychecks in local stores and deeply care about the success of Grand County.
Swift is also passionate about giving back to the community. They provide the Bessie Minor Swift scholarship to all markets they serve. A portion of this scholarship has been awarded to local Grand County nonprofits for the past several years. Swift, a family owned company, also maintains several rental apartments in Granby and is dedicated to keeping those prices as attainable as possible. Their goal is to be a community partner in every market they impact.
The giving doesn’t stop with Swift. Sky-Hi News donates tens of thousands of dollars every year in advertising to nonprofits. The staff at Sky-Hi News is also encouraged to give back. We are actively involved in the Home Grown Talent Initiative and have worked with high school students in a number of areas. We are also working on a partnership to bring a functional art exhibit of doghouses to the Town of Fraser. These doghouses will then be auctioned off with proceeds benefitting Grand County Pet Pals and Fraser Valley Arts.
Giving is a big part of who I am too. In every community I have lived in, I have been heavily invested and given my time to important causes, including the performing arts, suicide prevention and protecting victims of domestic abuse. It was my work in Summit County with a domestic abuse advocates group that fueled my passion for giving back in a more impactful way. I was a volunteer firefighter with Kremmling Fire for 2.5 years and serve on the countywide public information officer’s group. I am also a part-time deputy coroner for the county and try to help families find answers and have peace in their loved one’s passing.
The work I do, both paid and as a volunteer, isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. To be there for someone on their worst day and possibly make it better is fulfilling beyond words. I love Grand County and the people that make it such a wonderful place to call home.
The challenge in our industry
For years, many newspapers have cut publication days, consolidated to create expense savings, gone to an online paid model or closed down completely. In the last dozen years, 1,800 newspapers have closed and communities suffer without local news.
This comes at a time local journalism is as relevant as ever with an audience that is bigger than ever. Although we are a free distribution paper, nothing is free. The newspaper industry has high overhead costs with limited revenue streams. This is why the Sky-Hi News is more than a newspaper.
We have worked hard over the years to diversify our advertising products and offer businesses better solutions. Our goal is to help them grow and succeed. It is because of these businesses, which invest their hard earned money with us, that you have a free paper published in print every Wednesday and Friday with a website that’s updated seven days a week, 365 days a year. For that, I thank every single business that trusts us with their advertising.
Ultimately, the Sky-Hi News wants to dig deeper, ask more questions and follow more leads to find the light at the end of the tunnel. We appreciate all of the support we have had so far and look forward to another 75 years of serving our community as the newspaper of Grand County.
Emma Trainor is the publisher of the Sky-Hi News and Middle Park Times. She grew up in Steamboat Springs, where she started her newspaper career 10 years ago. Emma has lived in Grand County since 2016 with her husband.
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