During the protests and riots that rocked La Mesa recently, East County Magazine was the only media outlet with a team of reporters, photographers and videographers on the ground all night to bring you this crucial coverage. Our courageous reporters endured pepper spray and tear gas, threats and intimidation to bring you in-depth, independent coverage of this story and others across our region. In La Mesa, we also covered the aftermath -- interviewing the Mayor and Chief of police, as well as views of protesters, counterprotesters, residents, merchants, and the many who came out to clean up and rebuild La Mesa.
But what if we weren't here? Local news matters--and it's in danger.
Due to the pandemic, the Local Media Association reports some newspapers have lost 90% or more of their ad revenues. Nonprofit outlets including ours have lost revenues from hosting events, that are not allowed here due to COVID-19. Gannett, the biggest newspaper owner in the U.S., lost 94% of its value since last year. McClatchy, another large news publisher, filed for bankruptcy. Penny Abernathy, Knight hair of journalism and digital media economics at te University of North Carolina, predicts COVID-19 will be an "extinction level event" for many local media outlets, large and small.
The good news is that readership is up 23% at news sites nationwide since mid-March -- and here at East County Magazine, our readership has doubled to 12 mllion hits a month. During quarantine, people are rediscovering and appreciating the importance of local news coverage, whether it's reporting on emergencies such as wildfires or shining a light on actions of local governing boards at a time when the public is not allowed in many public meetings. We're also investing in bringing events online -- so you can hear directly from newsmakers and candidates in all parties running for local offices.
But we need your support to continue to be here to reflect your interests--the public interest, not special interests. With normal revenue sources gone due to the pandemic yet demand for local news higher than ever before, will you please make a donation to support our community reporting?