Become a member: An open letter to our readers
Dear readers and supporters of The Town Line:
For the past 33 years, The Town Line has pledged a mission statement to “create a vibrant rural community connecting our towns, organizations and individuals through communication, education and public dialogue.” 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 understanding of our surroundings.
Unfortunately, the last two decades have not been good for the nation’s newspapers. Nearly 1,800 local newspapers have closed their doors since 2014, according to a study done 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 pay for the cost of printing and distributing the paper each week. That is how The Town Line has remained a free paper for all of its 33-year history.
However, things have changed. With the advent of the internet in the 1990s, 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.
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 problem for this is the loss of local publications 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 are paid sub-standard wages. 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. We concentrate solely on local stories of interest to the rural towns of central Maine. However, we can no longer survive on advertising dollars alone. We need the support of the community more than ever. That is why we are writing to you today.
What can you do to help? For as little as $25 a year, you’ll become a member of The Town Line newspaper and receive our mailings and updates. You can talk to local business about the importance of advertising in The Town Line, to not only support the paper, but to show their support of community, instead of giant corporations like Facebook and Google.
The Town Line is a nonprofit community newspaper and we’re a dying breed. The world would 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; Eric Austin, secretary; Emily Cates, treasurer; Neil Farrington, Dan L’Heureux, Steve Ball and Jeanne Marquis.
Donate securely online here or mail your check to:
The Town Line newspaper
PO Box 89
South China, ME 04358
Article updated on 01/21/2021
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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