What kept you going this year? A Zoom call with your family? The heroism of our frontline workers? Rediscovering Maine’s beauty outdoors? The outpouring of donations in support of those in need?

In this time of tremendous loss, sacrifice, hardship and uncertainty, it’s crucial to find something.

For us at the Press Herald, it has been the support we have received from so many our readers. 

We felt it through subscriptions and donations that, along with a needed lifeline from the Paycheck Protection Program, made it possible for us to report thoroughly on this year of unprecedented news, with our pandemic coverage at the center of it all.

Our reporters were at every news conference at the state Center for Disease Control and Prevention, questioning state officials on your behalf. And we went deeper, illustrating how the coronavirus affected patients, health care workers and others; revealing shortcomings in the efforts to protect us and slow the virus; probing the impacts on restaurants and other small businesses.

From Maine Acts of Kindness features to our coverage of every aspect of the pandemicthe case counts, the vaccination progress, the economic recovery – we have had your back.

And you have had ours. For the first time in our history, we received donations in support of our work, made possible through our membership in the Local Media Association, an industry trade group. In addition to the much-needed financial support from hundreds of you, it was the comments you sent us that lifted us up. Like these:

• “A free press is monumentally important to our democracy. Thank you for all that you do and keep up the great work.”

• “Appreciating your coverage more than ever. My day wouldn’t be the same without the Press Herald every morning. 

 • Local reporting is an essential part of a healthy community. Thank you for being there.

Your belief in our work was also validated through our growing readership. This trend started before the pandemic. Since July 2019, combined print and digital subscriptions have increased over the previous year, making us one of the few newspapers that is reporting paid readership growth. In November, we achieved another milestone at the Press Herald, when our digital subscriptions eclipsed our home delivery subscriptions. For us, this signals that it is our journalism that is valued most and that the delivery method is secondary.

But our loyal home delivery print customers don’t need to worry, because we share their love for reading our work in the printed format. As two long-term subscribers wrote with their donation, “We’ve been enjoying your good work for years and years.” Those who have stuck with us through industry-wide delivery challenges in recent years should know that our dedicated delivery staff will still be there for you.

Like many other businesses, we have had to adapt to the realities of doing business during a pandemic. Keeping our staff safe and healthy has been a primary objective. Most of our employees were able to transition quickly to working from home, while our press operators and distribution staff continued to report to our South Portland facility to print and assemble our newspapers. The resilience, tenacity and commitment to our mission“to be a powerful force for good”is felt to the core by every member of our staff, from our editors to our finance team.  

What does the future hold for our newspapers? We remain very optimistic, especially as we see members of Congress turn their attention to the negative role that social media giants are playing in the national debate. Social media are echo chambers powered by algorithms programmed to feed you viewpoints that they know you already hold so you will keep clicking. Unlike us, these platforms are not there to inform you, and they don’t care about protecting democracy.

We’re attracting the next generation of readers, who are realizing that relying on social media isn’t the best way to get their news. We were heartened by this note signed by a “grateful college student” who wrote, Thank you for providing accurate news and being such a reliable source! All of us college kids truly appreciate you!!

We are so grateful for your support. Stay safe until it’s your turn to get vaccinated. Let’s push through this together and onto a better 2021.

— Lisa DeSisto is the publisher of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram and CEO of Masthead Maine, the state’s largest media group.


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