In this, our first edition since local public officials issued Stay at Home orders to halt the COVID-19 pandemic, we wanted to discuss changes in our business model forced by the pandemic and the paralysis of the economy caused by the absolute necessity of social distancing.
If you are reading a print edition of our newspaper, you will notice that it is a slimmer newspaper than what you have come to expect. It has fewer pages, shorter sections, and missing features. All of these changes were forced by the dramatic situation in which we all find ourselves.
Many local publications suspended their print operations as advertisers began to withdraw for the understandable reason that they are forced to cancel or postpone the events and programs that they had planned to advertise. While we commiserate with their decisions and wish them a speedy return to print publication, our first response is to cut costs by printing fewer pages rather than to suspend print publication.
Because many businesses, churches, schools, and retailers are closed, we have also had to shift our print distribution. So, that means, while you may not be able to pick up The American at your usual location, we have dramatically increased our delivery to area grocery stores, pharmacies and other businesses that do remain open and where our readers continue to visit regularly. The St. Louis American is now available at 62 area Schnucks stores, 64 area Walgreens stores, and 11 area Dierbergs stores.
We do ask our readers who find this explanation in print to share this information with those in your social network. We expect that everyone knows by now that our newspaper content, archive and much more are available online atwww.stlamerican.com. The E-edition of our print newspaper is available at no cost online. Also, we expect that most people know we post our content and other informative and entertaining content on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. The St. Louis American is easily found on all of these media platforms by searching for our name.
However, we know that not everyone has ready access to the internet in the homes where they have been ordered to remain. The valuable community institutions that offer free access to the internet, such as public libraries, are closed to them. The friends whose internet access they might borrow are advised, for all of our health, to suspend the practice of having friends over to the house.
We also know that many of our readers do not have homes or are ordered by a court to remain locked up in detention. These individuals cannot stay at home because they have no home or because a court has ordered them to stay behind bars. We will be reporting on these distressing situations and demanding that the authorities act to mitigate the suffering of the unhoused and incarcerated during this unprecedented time of social upheaval.
Readers of our online publication may notice a new addition to the ends of our online stories: “The St. Louis American is a black-owned, mission-driven news organization. We use the tools of journalism to inform, educate, inspire, empower and defend the black community in the St. Louis region.” While this statement is as old as this newspaper, the need to proclaim it is new. As we noticed during the Ferguson unrest, many new readers find us during times of unrest and upheaval. Since we practice journalism according to the same industry standards as any professional news organization, the way we focus on race and prioritize racial issues in our coverage sometimes needs some explaining to new readers.
None of us knows what the future holds – at any time, but especially at this time. But we do know one thing. For absolutely as long as we can continue to operate as a viable business, we will use the tools of journalism to inform, educate, inspire, empower and defend the black community in the St. Louis region.