Sometime around 1995 I started reading the newspaper every day after school. It quickly became a habit, even as an elementary school student. I mostly focused on the sports page in my early days but as I grew older I got more into the local, national and world news.
It has been a habit I’ve kept throughout the rest of my life. Though I might read on my phone or computer, I can’t go a day without reading the newspaper.
Naturally, my favorite newspaper was the one that drew me into the world of news: the Punxsutawney Spirit. The paper only has a circulation of a few thousand, but I remember being so excited the first few times my name appeared on the pages for a Little League game or school event.
It’s been a few years since I’ve moved away, but the Punxsutawney Spirit continues to be my only real link to my hometown. There aren’t any other news sources in town outside of a tiny radio station and regional news outlets only report on Groundhog Day related events.
Like a lot of other people who have left, I’m still very much interested in what goes on in my hometown. I very much enjoy reading about borough council meetings, road constructions, high school track meets and all the other mostly boring news that happens in a small town in Pennsylvania. The place is still my home and I need the local newspaper to keep that connection alive.
That’s why it is so frustrating that the Punxsutawney Spirit has implemented the worst revenue model I have ever seen.
The paper recently started posting only short snippets of news stories on their website, leaving the reader with a (mostly) tasty lede and an invitation to purchase the hard copy of the newspaper to read the rest of the story.
The web gives every newspaper an equal platform that allows the blood, sweat and tears that go into good reporting to be felt by any person with an Internet connection anywhere in the world at anytime. The Punxsutawney Spirit has the same platform to share news with the world as the Boston Globe and Washington Post. And all they do with it is tell you to go buy the paper.
There’s not even an online subscription option. You literally can’t get the news unless you pick up a physical paper at one of the stands around town.
I live around 170 miles away from Punxsutawney. A lot of people who read the website and rely on it for news probably live even further away. We’re not going to be able to buy the newspaper.
What we are able to do is visit your website, leave impressions, click on ads, subscribe digitally, share your stories online and get your stuff in front of more eyeballs. But we need access to the news for any of that to happen.