Looking at the post-pandemic picture for local newspapers

Darrell Davis

May 1, 2020

By Darrell Davis
Vice-President of Creative Services | Metro Creative Graphics Inc.

The novel coronavirus has produced devastating effects around the world, and like so many other industries, local newspapers are facing steep drops in revenue and unprecedented new challenges.

But if there is one thing the pandemic has proved, it’s that the role of newspapers as a source of reliable information, locally focused content and community connection remains vitally important.

America needs its newspapers more than ever, and now is the time to communicate your value to subscribers, advertisers and the public at large.
Below is a look at some angles local newspapers like yours can leverage as COVID-19 concerns continue and communities transition back into business.


Perhaps more than anything, residents want to know about county case numbers, local testing center locations, business hours and locations for essential shopping, food bank and assistance resources, and other hyper-local information that community newspapers are uniquely positioned to provide.

Being the go-to resource for crucial coronavirus updates and information can go a long way toward expanding your local readership and strengthening your post-pandemic advertising position.

Make sure your community knows what you offer and where to find it with self-promotion materials spotlighting your content, thanking your staff, providing subscription information and reinforcing the importance of subscriber support to the future of local newspapers.


Local newspapers will have a vital role in helping local business communities rebuild as the economy strengthens.

Finding ways to help businesses that are currently operating in your community can pay now and later.

Present spec ads to restaurant advertisers with creative takeout and delivery ideas like make-at-home pizza kits, signature pasta sauces to go, take-and-bake meals, family-style dinners or even a free roll of toilet paper.

Help promote virtual visits from physicians, churches, realtors and retail showrooms. Offer advertisers whose doors might be closed a low–cost way to promote gift cards and local businesses support with directory layouts.

Even advertisers who can’t pay to participate are likely to remember the goodwill you’ve extended them once they are back in business and ready to advertise.
As businesses begin to reopen, those actively promoting safe shopping environments, distanced dining, precaution measures and the continuation of contactless services have an opportunity to attract new and cautiously returning customers.


Through it all, more eyes on your newspaper present an opportunity to help readers stay connected in spite of physical distancing.
Running pages, ads, special sections or human interest features in support of local healthcare workers and those performing other essential services in your community is one way to foster this role.

The ever-changing impacts of coronavirus on local people, places and guidelines have also created increased interest in receiving text alerts from community publications like yours.

In addition, positioning your social media as reliable up-to-the-minute outlets for local updates, outbreak information and personal connections presents another way to strengthen your role as a community hub.

You might also consider using social media to solicit short story or photo submissions from readers, which can be run as special sections or to fill vacant ad spots.

Features like crosswords, games, puzzles and coloring pages are another often-appreciated way to keep at-home readers and their children engaged.

The road ahead might not be easy, but the understanding among businesses and communities that “we are all in this together” presents an opportunity for local newspapers to thrive in their role as vital information hubs, economic engines and community leaders, undeterred by any challenge.

In response to the coronavirus crisis, Metro Creative Graphics Inc. has created a free, fully templated special section titled “COVID-19: A Local Survival Guide” that is available to all newspapers at no charge.

Metro subscribers also have access to an emergency content library that includes hundreds of images, headings, pages, directories, ads, editorial features, puzzles, infographics and more dedicated to covering the coronavirus outbreak and response in print and online.

To receive the free special section, or for information about becoming a subscriber, call (800) 223-1600 or email service@metro-email.com.

Darrell Davis is the vice president of creative services for Metro Creative Graphics Inc. ddavis@metro-email.com