Since 1799, The Keene Sentinel has stood witness to local, state, national and international events, chronicling history as it happens with a unique focus on this community and its people. Like the venerable Monadnock Region we serve, this company has weathered all manner of challenges during nearly two-and-a-half centuries to provide the news area residents need to make informed decisions for themselves, their families, their region and their country. Ours is a public service with talented and thoughtful journalists, who strive to fairly present authentic stories of relevance. And through so many decades, this organization has cleared each obstacle it has confronted.
Today, we find ourselves, like you, facing an existential crisis – the kind that leaves us uncertain and changed. We know that, in time, this pandemic will be overcome, through effective treatment or a vaccine. We are also confident that throughout all of this, The Sentinel will continue to cover this crisis and other important developments in this community. But we are deeply worried about the depth of coverage we can provide given one of two major revenue streams on which we rely – advertising – has dropped precipitously, as local businesses make difficult decisions of their own.
A few weeks ago, about 15 area companies and philanthropists answered an appeal from us to support our COVID-19 news coverage, including our commitment to provide all our coronavirus coverage free online. Their heartwarming gestures, totaling $40,000, are assisting immeasurably our efforts to report on the novel coronavirus’ unprecedented local impact. These donors demonstrated their support of our mission to keep you informed. Now, as it’s become clear that economic fallout from the coronavirus will linger even longer, we are broadening that appeal and asking readers and non-readers alike to join them in helping us continue to deliver the news and information that are vital to this region’s health and future.
This coverage has already produced numerous important stories such as these:
* Articles about the lives of Bob Hamilton, 72; Joanne Mellady, 67; and Leo DiPalma, 93 – three COVID-19 victims who either lived here or who had local ties, whose rich stories help one begin to appreciate the scope of tragedy in a pandemic that’s killed nearly 300,000 people worldwide.
* Guidance in navigating a new normal: Where can you get tested, how can you sign up for unemployment (and who is still eligible when businesses reopen), how to buy groceries in bulk without hoarding, where to get meals for kids when schools are closed, what companies are making masks.
* From Dot Hunt, a Chesterfield woman who spends 40 hours a week cooking for seniors; to Peter Stivali, a nurse distancing himself from his mother (a cancer survivor), as he works on the pandemic’s frontlines, powerful accounts of how this community has confronted a scary time with strength.
On Tuesday, May 19, we will launch a public online campaign with a goal of raising $30,000 to support our news coverage. We are working with The Local Crowd Monadnock, a Keene-based crowd funder. The money raised will quite simply help us keep our newsroom intact and buy time for the local economy to rebound -- and for us to, as well. The fee structure attached to any donation sees 5% go to The Local Crowd and, if a credit card donation is made, less than 3% in credit card fees. These are non-tax deductible contributions.
Just as it was unorthodox to send out an appeal to a few local businesses and philanthropists, it is unusual for us to do the same with our readers. Many of them already graciously support what we do by subscribing, and we are so grateful. But with local newspapers across the country making deep cuts to newsrooms and with nearby papers such as The Telegraph of Nashua eliminating its print paper for all but one day a week, we are not immune to these economic realities. We need your help. We hope you will assist us in our mission of public service and will go to www.sentinelsource.com and contribute on May 19 or at some point in the two months that the drive will be open.
We don’t do this lightly. We are, after all, a business and need to stand on a sustainable foundation of earned revenue. But we find ourselves, like so many, in precarious times. We hope you’ll feel the critical news and information we’re providing you and the region is worthy of support and will be very grateful for any contribution you might make.
Thomas M. Ewing Terrence L. Williams
Publisher President & COO