Earlier this year, our one local newspaper ceased producing it's print edition. From now, on, it will provide online only access. But in a way, it was dying for a long time, as many local papers have been. Large publishing companies have bought up numerous local newspapers, then struggled with the economics of decline.
Why? Well, as many of you know, paid subscriptions and newsstand sales have never sustained newspaper publishing. Newspapers needed both display and classified advertising revenue to make up the difference. Display advertising has mostly dried up because we shifted our shopping habits to buy from online vendors instead of local "brick & mortar" stores. Those stores, many now out of business, no longer pay to run ads in local newspapers. Instead, their empty hulks and vast expanses of asphalt parking lots, with weeds sprouting up in the cracks, are all that's left.
Meanwhile, online classified ad sources, such as Craigslist, Facebook "for sale" pages, and others have become the "go to" places to buy and sell odd items posted by other individuals or small businesses.
The world has changed.
In light of all this, a friend of mine, David Mark, suggested that we need a kind of non-profit yellow pages guide to the various non-profit organizations and groups in town. This might be a list, either published on paper, or somewhere online, for both newcomers and long time residents who haven't kept up with what's going on. If we don't have local news reporters, perhaps these organizations may provide "news" of their activities on their own web sites, at least. After all, they are part of the life blood of any town, in addition to local government and small shops and businesses. There is The Action Paper to carry much of the display and business service classified ads for those that remain.
Thus I'm embarking on a mission to gather as much data as I can, get permission from each and every organization as to whether to be included and if so, what data to provide, and publish something. At the moment, the cost of an online searchable database or printed paper publication seems out of reach for me, as I'm just starting out spending my own time and money to get things going.
So, my approach is, get started, put up a PDF file here on this web site (see the "Guide" menu), then see how people react. Does the community see the value of doing this? If so, I'll make refinements in the process, gather the help of others, and raise funds as I go. At the moment, it's only for Maynard, Massachusetts, where I now reside. But if it seems successful, I'll share how we did it here for folks in other towns to create their own versions.