By Norb Garrett
A little more than two months ago, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic crisis that stopped life in its tracks, I reached out to our readers asking for help to support local, independent community journalism so that we could continue to deliver crucial local news and information during this unprecedented crisis.
As our local business owners closed their doors, we felt the immediate impact of the revenue losses as events were canceled, schools were closed and marketing budgets were slashed.
From the outset of the crisis, we made many changes and improvements to our operation, including launching new, community-specific daily e-newsletters (SC Times Daily, DP Times Daily and Dispatch Daily) with updates on the virus and how our communities were dealing with the crisis.
We also made significant changes in our newsroom staff in order to shift more focus on our social and digital platforms, created free online listings of all area restaurants that were open for takeout or delivery during the lockdown, eliminated operating costs and tasked our reporters and city editors with the job of increasing output to ensure that our communities were fully in the know.
The community’s response to my request to become an “Insider” to support the San Clemente Times, Dana Point Times and The Capistrano Dispatch has been nothing short of amazing. In just more than two months, more than 300 readers from our three communities have contributed to support us with the goal of keeping our reporting capabilities intact.
Every day, new members join to express their appreciation while also supporting the critical role a local, community newspaper and media business plays in our towns. Their contributions help us try to offset the continued revenue losses as our economy slowly recovers, and all of us here at Picket Fence Media are appreciative and humbled by your support.
Our goal is to reach 1,000 reader contributions by Sept. 1, as we are far from out of the financial woods while our local economy slowly restarts and businesses and events come back online.
As a way of thanking everyone who has contributed to support us, we launched our new membership program, “PFM Insider.” Starting in June, each month our “Insiders” receive a special discount code to use at a local business (this month it’s Bueno Bueno Mexican Kitchen in San Juan Capistrano), and we’ll feature a new “partner” deal every month.
We’ll also soon be adding exclusive Zoom chats featuring special guests for each of our three communities. I’m especially looking forward to hosting exclusive “Insider” meet-and-greets once we’re able to gather in large groups again.
If you haven’t yet contributed to support local journalism and become an “Insider,” please consider doing so now by either going to our websites and clicking on “Contribute,” or by sending your contribution directly to us at “PFM Insider, 34932 Calle Del Sol, Ste B, Capistrano Beach, CA, 92624.”
We truly appreciate your support of our ongoing efforts providing “Local News You Can Use.”
We’d also like to remind all of our readers to support your local businesses as they slowly reopen and return to operations. It’s more critical than ever to spend locally in order to help our businesses rehire staff and recover from months of lost business.
We’re all in this for the long haul, and all of us here at Picket Fence Media are committed to doing everything we can to continue to serve, support and grow our communities today and in the future.
Thanks again for your support of the San Clemente Times, Dana Point Times, The Capistrano Dispatch and local, independent journalism.