Dear Reader of The Town Line,
Some exciting things are happening at the paper this year, and we wanted to let you know everything that’s going on.
Did you know The Town Line now offers free classified ads for local nonprofits looking for volunteers? Or that we’ve begun sponsoring a local journalism workshop twice a year through the Augusta Adult Education program?
It’s all part of The Town Line’s mission to be a positive force in our community and bring together the rural towns of central Maine by promoting better communication and public dialogue.
Unfortunately, the last two decades have not been good for the nation’s newspapers. Nearly 1,800 local newspapers have closed their doors since 2004, according to a study by the University of North Carolina. The hardest hit are community papers like The Town Line that concentrate exclusively on local issues.
The reason so many newspapers across the country have gone out of business in recent years is simple – it’s all about the advertising. In the past, the revenue from advertising has gone to pay the writers and reporters investigating local stories – and to the cost of printing and distributing the paper each week. That’s how The Town Line has remained a free paper for all of its 30-year history.
With the advent of the internet in the late 90s, however, that paradigm began shifting. On the internet, advertising is no longer controlled by publications, but by social networking websites and search engines. As the internet has grown and gained more influence in our daily lives, the advertising power of the internet has grown as well. Over the years, the revenue from advertising that used to support local newspapers has shifted to global search engines and huge social networking websites instead. This change in who benefits from advertising has been a death blow to many local papers.
When a local newspaper dies, the biggest victims are small, rural communities like ours. The global nature of the internet means that more effort is going into the production of content based on national issues with a wider audience, and important local concerns are falling off the radar. Without a local newspaper, important community issues often go unreported.
For all of its history, The Town Line newspaper has been a local community paper. We report on people and events that are of special interest to the residents of central Maine. Our mission is “to create a vibrant rural community connecting our towns, organizations and individuals through communication, education, and public dialogue.” Our mission statement is literally to make our community a better place!
According to a 2018 study published in the Oxford Journal of Communication, communities without a local source of news become more partisan, divided and politically fractured. You’ve seen it happen on the national level. It’s a growing problem around the country. Part of the reason for that is the loss of local newspapers like ours.
The Town Line also differs from other media companies because we are a nonprofit organization. Most of our writers are volunteers. Our editor and staff work for peanuts. And we don’t push any political agenda. We serve as a voice for our diverse community but take no editorial side in any issue. And we concentrate solely on local stories of interest to the rural towns of central Maine.
However, we can no longer survive only on advertising revenue like we used to. We need the support of the community like never before. That’s why we’re writing to you today.
What can you do to help? There’s actually a number of things you can do. For starters, you should become a member of The Town Line. For as little as $25 a year, you’ll become a member of The Town Line and receive our mailings and updates, and be the first to hear about any new and exciting news involving The Town Line.
You can also talk to your local businesses about advertising in The Town Line newspaper or on our website. Explain the importance of supporting local newspapers instead of giant corporations like Facebook and Google. Let them know that you read The Town Line and their advertising dollars would be well spent with us.
The Town Line is a nonprofit community paper and we’re a dying breed. The world will be a worse place without us. In these days of mass media and internet mega-companies, we need your help to continue our mission to bring the residents of central Maine together through “communication, education and public dialogue.”
Won’t you join us and become a member today? (Click here to become a member.)
The Town Line Board of Directors
Joann Austin, president; Emily Cates, treasurer; Gladys Hewett, secretary; Eric Austin; Neil Farrington, and Dan L’Heureux
p.s. For any donation of $25 or more, please stop by our office at 575 Lakeview Dr., So. China, to pick up a free gift (while supplies last).
Donate securely online here or mail check to:
The Town Line newspaper
PO Box 89
South China, ME 04358
Responsible journalism is hard work!
It is also expensive!
If you enjoy reading The Town Line and the good news we bring you each week, would you consider a donation to help us continue the work we’re doing?
The Town Line is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit private foundation, and all donations are tax deductible under the Internal Revenue Service code.
To help, please visit our online donation page or mail a check payable to The Town Line, PO Box 89, South China, ME 04358. Your contribution is appreciated!
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