Dennis DeRossett is executive director of the Nebraska Press Association, a job he started just two months before the pandemic began. Working remotely, he had to get up to speed on the state’s 163 newspapers whose advertising declines ranged from 10 to 70% in the early days of the pandemic.
At the same time, weekly newspapers started performing more like dailies with more frequent news updates to websites and social media in between print editions.
“There was no other place for the local people to turn for local news,” he said. “If you’re out in rural county outstate Nebraska, the TV stations, radio stations, and Lincoln/Omaha newspapers are not reporting on your county, so you don’t know what’s going on locally unless you go to the local news source.”
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See more from The Essential Workers, an oral history project tracking the experiences of locally owned newspapers in Mid-America during the pandemic.