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Despite changes, our mission remains same

In the weeks since the coronavirus pandemic has begun spreading across the U.S., a lot has changed.

Businesses deemed non-essential have been forced to close their doors. As people follow directives to stay home unless absolutely necessary, foot traffic has slowed even to essential businesses, leaving locally owned businesses to either drastically cut hours or close their doors temporarily.

Public services have transitioned to online models, local governments and courts are meeting virtually, and healthcare workers are working around the clock to take care of patients afflicted by COVID-19.

Through all of these changes, readers throughout the Miss-Lou have turned to The Natchez Democrat’s news sources to stay informed. As information is flying fast and furiously in these unprecedented times, our news team has worked hard to deliver trusted, accurate information as quickly as it develops.

From more somber news as confirmed cases increase, to heartwarming stories of citizens working to take care of their neighbors, we have continued to serve you.

As we shift our print cycle to three days per week, readers should not expect any change in the amount of information shared. Our commitment to telling the local news as it happens remains our priority; all that changes is the medium and cycle in which we share it.

Reducing the frequency of the printed newspaper was a necessary response to decreased advertising as businesses face increased challenges. Following orders to stay home, many people have stopped going to newspaper boxes to purchase newspapers, resulting in reduced revenue across the board.

Meanwhile, traffic to our website has never been better. From the safety of their homes, our readers are reading the news online now more than ever, tracking live updates, breaking news and powerful features on good work being done. This, coupled with the decreased revenue, led to the difficult decision to shift our efforts and decrease the number of printed newspapers published per week.

The Natchez Democrat is not alone. At last count midweek, more than 1,000 newspapers in this country had reduced their print publication days, terminated or furloughed employees, cut employee compensation, or done some combination of all. We chose reduced print frequency as a strategy for keeping our journalists and support staff gainfully employed and compensated and serving you around the clock at natchezdemocrat.com.

I’ll do my best to address your pressing questions here.

Is the change permanent?

This was an urgent and direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the related shutdown of the local economy. On the other side of this economic crisis, we will reevaluate the way we serve you in print. All along the way, we will work harder than ever to serve you online. It’s impossible to know at this time the shape and length of the economic recovery. In short, we will be adaptive.

Have you sought government or other external support?

Our application was among the first submitted last week for the Payroll Protection Program, part of the most recent federal stimulus package passed by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. The program consists of forgivable loans to keep small businesses afloat and employees on the payroll. Like hundreds of thousands of other small businesses in this country, we eagerly await word on our application. We understand loyal print subscribers may be saddened by this change, but we assure them the amount of content they receive will not decline. The three remaining print publications will be robust, packed full of all the features our readers love — and even more.

We are all navigating uncharted territory, adapting to changes every day while working to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. To get through these uncertain times, we must focus on coming together and moving forward. At The Natchez Democrat, we know our role in that mission is to continue telling your stories and providing information as quickly as it is available.

Like so much else in our lives, The Natchez Democrat’s approach to the way in which we share these stories will be different than before the pandemic. Through these changes, our commitment remains to informing the Miss-Lou, and we will continue to be your trusted source for local news.

Rex Maynor is the publisher at The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached by phone at 601-445-3566, or by email at rex.maynor@natchezdemocrat.com.