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Alexandria Gazette Packet Launches GoFundMe as Advertising Revenue Dries Up

There’s a room stacked floor-to-ceiling with archives in the headquarters of the Alexandria Gazette Packet overlooking King Street. The back wall of the second-floor conference room, where editorial meetings have been held for years, is lined with volumes ranging from the latest publications to the early 19th century.

It’s a quiet testimony from an award-winning newspaper as it launches a GoFundMe to survive the economic impact of the pandemic.

The drop in advertising forced newspapers across the country — many of which were already struggling — to permanently close.

“The pandemic has crushed many newspapers across the country, and one of America’s oldest newspapers and its affiliated Connection Newspapers, websites and digital media is at risk,” said Jerry Vernon, publisher at the Connection Newspapers and organizer of the fundraiser, in the GoFundMe description. “The pandemic has hit small businesses hard, which in turn has reduced advertising revenue that keeps these local newspapers alive to provide hyperlocal news to residents.”

The fundraiser has been active for four days and has raised $2,308 of its $50,000 goal.

Vernon cited the paper’s legacy and its unique local access.

“Connection Newspapers has been offering these local newspapers to residents for over 200 years — countless residents have grown up with this local paper covering significant moments in the life of your family and children, news, sporting events, school activities, and even pictures of your dogs and cars,” Vernon wrote. “Internet news and large national newspapers do not provide the local connection or historical connection that local papers like Connection Newspapers provide.”

The Alexandria Gazette Packet, which has a lineage dating back to the Virginia Journal’s founding in 1784, is part of the Connection Newspapers network covering Northern Virginia and part of Maryland. The paper has covered everything from breaking news to local community profiles and has several featured editions throughout the year on things like local pets or a newcomer’s guide to the city.

Vernon said the funding raised will help cover the salaries of those who work at the newspaper.

“Help save these historical papers,” Vernon wrote. “If your child, dog, mother, father, neighborhood, school has been featured, you understand the value of a local community newspaper. Thank you for helping to keep your community dialogue alive throughout Northern Virginia and Potomac, [Maryland]. All funds will be used to continue providing vital community dialogue and meeting obligations to our loyal and patient employees, contractors and suppliers due to continuing loss of advertising.”

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