Just three weeks ago, I don’t think any of us could have possibly imagined the circumstances that confront us today: stuck at home, the economy strangled, worried about basic survival. We have all been tested, and we have some hard miles to go. A friend of mine who runs an emergency room at a major metropolitan hospital put it to me this way, “We’re coming to the end of the first half. It’s starting to rain and the field is getting muddy.”
I assure you all the work of the Montana Newspaper Association continues. Our small staff has been effective from home, and we are refining our processes and procedures to improve our remote management. We’re installing a new, more capable phone system this weekend, which will make it easier than ever to reach us. Our lobbyist, John MacDonald has been very busy helping us work with government leaders to safeguard Montanans’ right to participate as routine open meetings move online. And I’ve been on the watch for helpful resources to share with you. Look under the COVID-19 Resources and Updates heading in this message for a bunch of useful links.
We’re all uncertain about the future. Some of you surely wonder if your newspapers can survive. I’d counsel patience. Explore the elements of the CARES Act and submit your loan applications right away. The Payroll Protection Program, with its promise of loan forgiveness, appears to be a government giveaway that deserves a good look from every employer. And additional federal relief is expected, including a $1 trillion infrastructure bill. Most promising, U.S. Senators are starting to think about specific, direct assistance for local news organizations. We will be hearing more about that idea as it gains traction.
MNA leaders decided last week to postpone our annual convention, typically scheduled in June, until sometime later this fall. We’re still anticipating a terrific celebration of our collective resilience at the Kalispell Hilton Garden Inn, probably in mid-October. We’ll keep you posted as our revised plan comes together. Our April 24 board meeting remains on the calendar, but we’ll convene on Zoom, instead of gathering in person.
The weight of these extraordinary circumstances is not lost on any of us. We are sharing a profound experience, a very humbling experience. We can find strength in our collective knowledge and commitment to serve our communities. But we must persevere. Please call on the MNA if there’s anything we can do for you, even if it’s just to lend a sympathetic ear. I wish you all good health and good cheer.
Apr. 12: Easter Sunday
Apr. 13 Nomination deadline for 2020 Master Editor/Publisher, Dick Crockford Distinguished Service Award, and Montana Newspaper Hall of Fame
Apr. 15: Montana Corporation Annual Report filing deadline with the Montana Secretary of State
Apr. 24: MNA/MNAS board meetings via Zoom
May 25: Memorial Day
Jun. 2: Montana primary election
COVID-19 RESOURCES AND UPDATES
Illinois Press Association Provides CARES Act Summary
Reliable, succinct information about the federal stimulus packages has been hard to find, but the Illinois Press Association hosted a helpful webinar Thursday, April 2 summarizing the CARES Act and its impact on newspapers. To view a recording of the webinar, click here. To view the slide deck presented, go here.
SBA Disaster Loans
Publishers can apply for Small Business Administration disaster loans and receive an advance of $10,000 within three days of applying. The SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program provides small businesses with working capital loans of up to $2 million that can provide vital economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing. The loan advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. (SBA)
U.S. Chamber Summarizes CARES (stimulus) Act
The United States Chamber of Commerce has published a breakdown of all the federal programs and aid for small business coronavirus assistance, including the CARES Act (federal stimulus. The CARES Act, which was signed into law last week, has a number of components aimed at helping small businesses survive and recover from losses suffered during the coronavirus outbreak. Key components of the CARES Act include a loan program from the SBA, changes to unemployment benefits and changes to business tax filing requirements. If funding supplied is used for its expressed purposes, some of it will be considered a grant and will not be required to be repaid to the government. This summary fact sheet prepared by the Chamber is a good place to start. (U.S Chamber)
Montana Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Resource Page
The Montana Chamber of Commerce provides a COVID-19 Business Resources web page where you’ll find a collection of news, highlights, and best practices gathered from chamber partners, other chambers of commerce, and various credible news outlets. The Montana Chamber pledges to update this web page frequently with announcements and new developments as they occur. (MT Chamber)
Media Virus Watch
A joint venture between America’s Newspapers and Editor & Publisher, Media Virus Watch provides a broad spectrum of news and information regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the newspaper industry. (Media Virus Watch)
Zero incidents of COVID-19 transmission from print surfaces
INMA published an article debunking the myths about newsprint and COVID-19. There has never been a documented incident whereby the COVID-19 virus has been transmitted from a print newspaper, print magazine, print letter, or print package, according to the world’s top doctors and scientists. (INMA)
Montana AG Issues Guidelines for Public Meetings
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox issued a letter of advice in response to a request for guidance on how government entities should conduct open meetings during the COVID-19 state of emergency. (Montana AG)
Coronavirus Impact Survey
The News Media Alliance is asking news publishers to provide insight on how COVID-19 is impacting business. They need your help in filling out this survey so they can share your experiences and needs with policymakers on Capitol Hill. It will take only 5 minutes of your time. Your answers will be CONFIDENTIAL and any information shared will be in the aggregate. This particular survey is designed to provide facts to help the News Media Alliance fight for you with policymakers. (News Media Alliance)
MNAS Board Gives Final Approval, SQD Program Trial Begins
Forty-six newspapers representing over 250,000 readers have committed to participating the 90-day trial period of the new MNAS statewide quarter-page display advertising program (SQD), and the MNAS board has given its final approval to launch. The SQD network will provide advertisers with an opportunity to get broad, statewide reach with a larger display size at a very reasonable cost. SQD will complement the SCAN, SDAP and SOAP networks, helping to sustain the MNA as the newspaper industry evolves. (MNA)
135th Annual MNA Convention Postponed Until Fall
The MNA executive committee decided last week to postpone the 135th annual MNA convention, originally scheduled for June 11-13, until fall. The MNA office will keep members updated with more information as our plans for annual meetings and BNC awards come together. We’re still anticipating a great weekend at the Kalispell Hilton Garden Inn, probably in mid-October. Stay tuned.
April 24 MNA and MNAS Board Meetings Moved to Zoom Internet Platform
Restrictions on public gatherings will require the MNA and MNAS to hold their board meetings scheduled for Friday, April 24 on the Zoom video conferencing platform. The MNA will provide more detailed instructions for connecting once the agendas have been finalized.
Nominations extended for 2020 Master Editor/Publisher, Dick Crockford Distinguished Service Award, and Montana Newspaper Hall of Fame
In the tumult of the last few weeks, the nomination deadline for the 2020 Montana Master Editor/Publisher Award, the Dick Crockford Distinguished Service Award and for induction into the Montana Newspaper Hall of Fame came and went without a reminder. To ensure everybody has an opportunity to get nominations submitted, we’ll extend the deadline until Monday, April 13, 2020. To download the nomination forms, follow this link to the MNA website. (MNA)
National Groups Petition for Relief
America’s Newspapers, the entity created by the recently merged Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and Inland Press Association, and the News Media Alliance are lobbying congressional leaders and President Trump for economic relief specifically for the newspaper industry. (America’s Newspapers)
Neiman Lab Analyzes Impact of Government Stimulus on Press
The multi-trillion-dollar CARES Act should extend a lifeline to many small local publishers. But for bigger companies and chains, the help they’ll receive is still up in the air. (Nieman Lab)
News associations see peril from the coronavirus shutdown, but have some plans to get through it
Leaders of associations that represent the newspaper industry are normally upbeat, even in the face of a decade-long decline of the business. But clearly these are not normal times. (Poynter)
Montana Newspapers Announce Staff Reductions
Gannett, Lee Enterprises and Adams Publishing have all announced measures to reduce payroll in response to economic pressures created by the COVID-19 crisis . (Poynter) (Poynter) (BDC)
A Guide to Taking Care of Yourself and Your Newsroom
The coronavirus pandemic threw a ginormous flaming curveball at the news media industry, from turning newsrooms remote to eviscerating whole streams of revenue. It’s really easy to panic when you don’t know what the next day or even the next hour will bring, much less how to plan for it. (Nieman Lab)
Seven ways publishers can help their advertisers right now
For news publishers, there have always been challenges. Users recognize the value, the trusted content, and the professional quality. For advertising, it can be challenging when there are negative news stories. Now, that feels like every day. (INMA