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Alaskans Are Nice

Longtime readers of this here newsletter probably remember the time Larry Persily decided to give away an Alaskan newspaper.

Well, he reached out to me again last week and said he wants to help find a new owner for another Alaskan paper.

This time he said whoever comes in and runs the paper would eventually take it over through “sweat equity,” meaning each month that person stays on the job, they’ll pick up a percentage of equity in the paper and eventually will acquire all 100 percent.

Last time around, Persily made waves by offering to give away The Skagway News. He did just that, and the new owners are making a go of it

Of course, that road became a lot more rocky than planned due to the pandemic. 

Skagway, you see, is a tourism town. And with no cruise ships arriving, no tourists are spending money in town. However, the local government has a generous plan to help folks. Residents can receive $1,000 stimulus checks each month for six months — a welcome relief for everyone in town, it seems.

But back to Persily and his new offer... 

He’s hoping to find someone who would be able to move and take over this second paper sometime in October or November. If you’re interested and would like more details, you should reach out to Persily via email at and tell him NewStart sent you.

'No Salutation, No Sympathy, No Humanity'

Victor Hernandez, who is part of our inaugural NewStart master's program, recently wrote an emotional Medium post about his brother passing away unexpectedly

The post did more than just highlight the love for his brother and the loss and grief his family felt, especially during a pandemic. It also shed light on the interactions between local newspapers and their communities, and how those interactions compare to other community services like public libraries.

Here's Hernandez talking about trying to contact his hometown paper to place an obituary:
It took a couple of attempts, but eventually, I heard back from a classified advertising clerk. Unfortunately, it was not what I was expecting.

“Cost with photo for one day in paper $390.00. Liz”

That’s it. Nine words. No salutation, no sympathy, no humanity.
This story is definitely worth the nine minutes of your time to read it. If you own or work at a local publication, how would this make you feel? How would you have responded? I'd love to hear your thoughts after you read it.

NewStart Update

In case you missed last week's newsletter, the first NewStart class is officially under way. The discussions have been outstanding, and our one-on-one sessions this week filled me with hope for the future.

At the same time, it's never too early to start thinking about next year.

If you're interested in becoming a media entrepreneur during our next enrollment period, or helping someone become an entrepreneur, email me at and we can set up a phone call or Zoom meeting and chat.

And here's something to consider: If you're an owner or publisher who is grooming someone in your newsroom to eventually take over, why not consider enrolling them in our one-year, online master's degree in Media Solutions and Innovation from West Virginia University? It would make a worthwhile investment in your publication's future.

The Power of Local Media

Local news outlets are still relevant, example No. 14,455:

Quick Hits

Now on to the latest news and notes from around the world of local journalism:

Learn: “We have ‘Black’ and ‘African American’ and ‘police’ and ‘brutality’ on all of our news articles. So we can’t run ads on them,” DeBaun said. “I’m taking so many financial hits for doing what’s right and covering what’s right — and what’s true, most importantly.” "Despite a dramatic deceleration caused by the coronavirus pandemic driving down ad spend globally, there are now significant signs of recovery." "We know digital editions are having their moment in the sun right now, or as Rick Edmonds recently wrote for Poynter, 'replica editions, the ugly ducklings of digital news, have suddenly become strategic.' Today we’re sharing answers to nine questions from our webinar attendees that we didn’t get a chance to answer live." "So what can be done to better reach people in news deserts and immigrant communities?
Here are three ways that journalism projects are reaching people in news deserts and immigrant communities with crucial COVID-19 information." "Even as local news publications continue to shrink or even shutter, we see readers’ appetites for trustworthy news reporting only growing. We want to support our existing members, and along with the GNI, help create digital news startups. In particular, we want to create outlets for underserved communities that have not historically seen themselves reflected in their local news." "When newspapers and their lobbyists tell legislators, as they sometimes now do, that loss of public notice income would shutter many newspapers, they aren’t bluffing. It would undoubtedly be a mass extinction event." Social media has been a significant source of traffic as the global pandemic has taken shape in recent months. Therefore, we partnered with Chartbeat to take a deeper look into social traffic, namely the interactions and engagement across social media channels that can give us insights into a post-pandemic landscape.  "We need new models and must educate the next generation about how journalists do their work to set their work apart from other sources of information." "French MPs have voted to grant a tax credit to anyone taking out a new subscription to a current affairs newspaper or magazine after the government argued that the sector was “suffering enormously” from the coronavirus crisis."

Gather (Virtually): "The nation’s top journalists, media executives, journalism educators, public relations professionals and students will gather online, August 5-8, 2020, for the first-ever virtual NABJ-NAHJ joint convention and career fair."

This An' 'At: "We chased followership on social platforms only to see algorithms shift.
We chased scale only to see decreased referral traffic and depressed CPMs.
We chased engagement only to realize the vitriol on these platforms was alienating our audiences.
Ultimately, we tried to grow the easy way instead of growing the right way." "Actually, most news outlets are experiencing losses quietly. But two in particular — Pittsburgh City Paper and Pittsburgh Current — have been vocal in asking the public for support to stay open." “Before the pandemic, journalism was seen as a pet interest on the Hill,” Ervin quotes Viktorya Vilk, of advocacy group PEN America, saying. “That perception has shifted now. We’re finally at a moment when conversations [about assistance] are absolutely happening.” "The Bradenton Herald tells the stories we need to be aware of — bringing issues that would otherwise be discussed and lived behind closed doors into the forefront. We are hopeful that any new owner will insist that this news outlet will be given the resources to grow local journalism."

See Something, Share Something

That's all for this week. As always, thanks for reading.

A reminder: If you have a success story, or know someone else doing something great, I want to hear about it, and share it in this newsletter. So reach out to me and we'll chat. You can reply to this email, or hit up NewStart on Twitter @wvunewstart, and you can @ me @jimiovino.

If you, your organization, or anyone else you know would like to fund a NewStart fellowship position or would want to offer a scholarship in Year 2, feel free to reach out to me. I'd be happy to talk! Seriously, I would love to offer more fellowships and scholarships, and you can help.

And don't forget, you can find NewStart online at

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Thanks again, stay safe, and we'll talk next week.
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