(11/20) Due to a lack of continued support
from local businesses, the community at large and the economic recession, The
Dispatch is going out of print.
The Dispatch’s advertising income is down 50 percent, yet the costs to run the
publication continue to escalate. Because the company is so small, there is
nothing more to cut. The company has a staff of about 15 people, but only three
are paid positions. Without a news editor, administrative person who also
handles inside advertising sales and subscriptions, and a graphic
designer/reporter, you have no newspaper.
“We are being forced to shut down our
operations at this time,” said Publisher Raymond Buchheister. “We are at a
crossroad; the advertising losses are so large that owners and investors are
not able to make up the difference. It’s simple; we do not have enough income
to cover our costs.”
Another thing that helped make the
decision was the poor response to the publisher’s editorial that ran in the
Oct. 16 issue.
“We got the impression that our news
service is not appreciated by the majority,” Buchheister said.
The editorial called for a response and
provided six ways readers could help their hometown newspaper. Five of the six
did not require someone to write a check. About 10 people responded with
letters, and a total of six people were willing to pay for the publication they
receive. The monetary support totaled $389.80, which will be sent back to these
The Dispatch received no response from
town governments, businesses or a significant number of individuals. Emmitsburg
Mayor James Hoover was the only government official to respond with a phone
call. He offered some suggestions and said he supported the publication.
“The people have spoken,” Buchheister
said, “What are we to think about this response to a newspaper that is received
in 15,000 local homes and businesses?”
The company has primarily been a service to the community and has made no
profit, but rather has suffered losses, especially the last three years. The
majority of the newspaper’s costs are payroll, printing and postage. The costs
for printing and postage have increased dramatically over this time. The
Dispatch had been working to change the company to not-for-profit, which would
have significantly reduced the postage costs and brought the operating budget
into the black, but the economic recession has overwhelmed these efforts.
Buchheister said two things make this
decision especially hard: having to lay off employees and his concern that the
community will not be informed of important issues.
“Having to lay off three paid employees,
especially at this time of year is difficult,” Buchheister said. “These
employees have been loyal and have become family to us. Their work has given
the community its local newspaper. I also have a concern that the local
community will no longer have a real news service. A newspaper requires trained
reporters that are working for the people to deliver factual information about
government, businesses, and institutions, which are the large elements that
shape and form small communities. Without a watchdog, the community isn’t safe.
Without a real newspaper dedicated to serving truth, the people have lost their
voice. That is my greatest concern, for I feel I have failed in my efforts to
help provide this service to which everyone has the right.”
Buchheister attributes the last three
years of the publication’s existence to 10 local business owners who have
provided capital for the company in 2006.
“These business owners understand the
importance of what a newspaper means to the community,” Buchheister said. “They
have contributed their time in meetings and have contributed monetarily so that
the community could have this news service. They are the ones that have made
this possible. Without them the publication would not have stayed in print as
long as it has.”
The Dispatch is not the only newspaper
that has been hit by the sagging economy. The Frederick News-Post laid off 16
employees on Nov. 3 or about 7 percent of their total workforce. The company
attributed the cuts to a sour economy, the stockmarket crash and banks slowing
lending. The Gazette newspapers, owned by the Washington Post Company,
eliminated 23 positions, about 14 percent of its workforce earlier this year.
The company said falling ad revenue and rising newsprint prices contributed to
the employee terminations.
Raymond and Jennifer Buchheister have
owned and operated The Dispatch Newspapers for the past six years. The
Emmitsburg Dispatch printed its first edition on June 2002. Its predecessor was
The Emmitsburg Regional Dispatch, which Bo and Jean Cadle owned and operated
for eight years. The Buchheisters grew the paper from a monthly with a
circulation of 3,000 to a twice-a-month paper distributed to 9,000 residents
and businesses. The Buchheisters started The Thurmont Dispatch on August 4,
2005 and distributed it twice a month to 6,000 people.
The Emmitsburg Dispatch, Inc. and The
Dispatch Newspapers, LLC was the first local modern newspaper company in
Emmitsburg to incorporate full color, employ degreed journalists, conform to
the style standards of newspaper journalism and graphic design and to be
accepted as members into the Maryland-Delaware-DC Press Association. Along the
way, the newspapers also won awards for their excellence in writing.
The Dispatch Newspapers, LLC will continue
to remain a business and retain trademark rights to any newspapers it
published. There are no plans to resume printing the papers at this time,
unless something dramatic happens or a financial backer comes forward. The
owners will consider selling the company. The Dispatch offices will remain open
at 9 East Main Street in Emmitsburg part time through December to complete
business transactions until the doors close on Dec. 31.
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