There are two critical components to a free community newspaper – readers and advertisers. Without folks seeking to pick up the product each week and businesses supporting it through their marketing dollars, The Dispatch would not exist.
No year in our history, dating back to 1984, was more trying than 2020 for a variety of factors, including the fact many readers loathe to leave their homes to pick up the paper (at times during an active stay-at-home order) and visitor numbers were down. The fact our online audience quadrupled in 2020 confirms reticence from our readers in the spring months. Additionally, local businesses rightly so went into crisis mode, evaluating every expense and business decision in an effort to conservatively manage their financials amid uncertainty. Many eliminated advertising altogether in the spring never to resume.
As we reflect on 2020, there were bright lights. The youngest among us showed us how to weather this year by demonstrating resiliency and poise through challenging school environs as well as losing many enjoyable events and activities to the pandemic.
Many business operators focused their efforts during extended closures on rightsizing their operations this year out of desperation and in the process discovered leaner expenditures, though painful, are better for cash flow. This mindset was forced as personnel was a constant problem and hours of operation and capacity were in flux. While it may have meant longer hours for management and working harder for the revenue, profit rules in the end and a lot was learned while overcoming hurdles.
For us here at The Dispatch, we will persevere. There were difficult decisions made as we reacted and pivoted to survive, not thrive. We made decisions that still hurt today, months later. Most in business want to be proactive and see the issues before they occur. There was no predicting a pandemic would cripple most businesses in some fashion.
As we reflect on 2020, a note of appreciation to the businesses who make The Dispatch possible as we close out the year. A few of our customers never stopped advertising with us throughout the entire year. Some of these folks continued to market their businesses or real estate listings even when they could not open or show properties. They advertised to support their community newspaper and allow us to report on the news happenings and community activities of this region. We appreciate the advertisers who provided the resources to do our job and the readers who consumed the work.