The owner of The Press of Atlantic City and Catamaran Media (which publishes The Current, The Gazette, and other local weekly papers) cut 12 jobs at those companies yesterday, including seasoned reporters, editors and photographers (read a little more here, via The Press). The company will also not be filling many currently vacant positions. On the same day, the price of The Press of Atlantic City went up 50 percent to $1.50. You probably know that the newspaper industry has been struggling for almost two decades. First came the internet, which eroded the value of printed news, then Facebook and Google became publishers and they now take most of the online advertising money. What you might not know is that The Press of Atlantic City has historically been such an important local company that it is named as a key employer in county bond issuance documents.
We don’t have all the answers at Route 40 but we believe we can create a sustainable news business here. Why? Most of our revenue comes from our readers (people like you who make one-off contributions here or become Route 40 Members here). We write for our readers, who tell us they want to read quality reporting that digs into what is going on around them, shines a light on people and issues that need and deserve attention, and questions public figures and public spending. We get some revenue from online ads, from selling some of the databases behind our data journalism projects, and we have plans to hold events later this year. We think communities deserve to have a local news outlet and we ourselves want to be part of the community. All that said, Route 40 is less than a year old and we do not yet make enough money to pay for the two of us to work on it full time, or to hire people who have been laid off. We are thinking about holding a public meeting to talk about ways to support journalism in the area and maybe doing some crowdfunding to pay for reporting, perhaps by some of the people who lost their jobs yesterday. Get in touch with us if you have ideas on how to help build a local news platform that will include you as a stakeholder.
Normal Route 40 Roundup programming will resume tomorrow. The rest of the day’s headlines include the news that Atlantic City’s Sister Grace died, aged 97, Stockton is hosting a town hall meeting on opioid abuse on Monday, a look at ‘telemedicine’ (seeing the doctor without leaving home) in New Jersey, and the plan to use fantasy sports betting to boost state tax revenue. All that and more below: