Gannett, McClatchy Drop Paywalls On COVID-19 Content

McClatchy and Gannett have dropped the paywall on COVID-19 content across their networks of local publications.

“We see this as an important part of our public-service mission. In times of crisis, news can be as important as the most basic utility, and we will stand shoulder to shoulder with vital community organizations and services to do our part,” McClatchy president-CEO Craig Forman wrote in an op-ed published Friday.

The post ran online in all 30 McClatchy news sites and on Sunday in print.

McClatchy newsrooms have produced more than 2,500 coronavirus-related articles, according to Forman.



“Life as we know it is changing dramatically for at least the next several weeks. But the news never stops. And neither will we,” he wrote.

Columbus Dispatch executive editor Alan Miller, who is also regional editor for 21 Gannett newspapers in Ohio, told the Associated Press the Columbus Dispatch website had put down its paywall.

“We’re making it free as a public service and hope that readers who appreciate that would consider subscribing to the Dispatch,” he said.

The Columbus Dispatch site had more than 1 million page views and 670,000 unique visitors last Sunday. A week earlier, the site had 271,000 page views and 55,000 visitors, Miller told the AP.

This morning, Gannett launched Support Local, a platform created to help small businesses facing significant economic challenges, due to the spreading COVID-19 virus.

“Given our deep footprint in many communities across the nation and the fact that we aim to help local businesses grow and thrive, we wanted to provide a way that connects communities and local businesses together for support during this time,” according to a spokesperson.

Gannett owns 260 daily local news brands.

The Support Local site provides free business listings and allows readers to search by city. Readers can filter by categories, such as restaurants, bars, cafes and bakeries.

Launching with more than 1,000 restaurants, the site is crowdsourced — business owners can add their information or readers can add favorite local spots for members of their community to discover.

The site encourages purchasing gift cards to support local businesses. Soon, it will expand to other business categories, such as spas, salons and retail stores, as well as additional ways to support them.

All businesses are verified using Google Places API to ensure accurate information, according to Gannett.

“We believe local businesses are the heartbeat of America,” stated Kevin Gentzel, Chief Revenue Officer of Gannett.

“Support Local will give our readers and local communities the opportunity to ensure sustainability for their favorite businesses as we all strive to make it through COVID-19 together," he added.

A joint op-ed published on March 18 by Gentzel and Maribel Perez Wadsworth, president of news and publisher of USA Today, encouraged communities to show strong support for local businesses. The op-ed was published in USA Today and across all of Gannett’s local news sites.

In the United States, small businesses with less than 20 employees make up almost 90% of all U.S. business enterprises in the country, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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