The Cost of a ‘Free’ Paper

Many small towns enjoy a local newspaper for community news, coverage of events, and stories about friends and neighbors. Pawling is no exception, and The Pawling Record (TPR) has faithfully been serving the community since May 2017. Like many local papers, TPR is free for the taking and is available at both small businesses and larger chain supermarkets that have locations in the area. However, it is important to understand that while the paper comes at no charge to the reader, there is a cost associated with running the publication.

The Pawling Record operates with a small but dedicated group of team members who are paid for their work, including an editor, a consulting editor, a design/art director, a freelance features writer, and a director of advertising sales who also doubles as the publication’s social media manager. The paper also receives unpaid content from members of the community and is overseen by members of a Board of Trustees who receive no compensation.

The paper is supported through three separate income sources: advertising revenue, donations, and subscriptions. Advertising revenue accounts for the largest portion of The Pawling Record’s income, roughly 49% for each issue. Donations account for an average of 47% for each issue, and subscriptions bring in 3.5% of the paper’s income each issue.

Editorial expenses, including content providers who are paid to generate content, account for an average of $1,901 (43%) per issue. Production costs, including the paper’s layout, printing, and delivery total an average of $1,980 (44.8%) for each issue, and indirect expenses including mailing, bookkeeping, insurance, postage, and website maintenance cost an average of $538 (12.2%) per issue. On average, each issue of The Pawling Record costs $4,800 to produce and distribute.

Since the first issue hit newsstands last May, the reception to the publication has been overwhelmingly positive. The residents of Pawling cherish the small town dynamic and were pleased to see a local print paper again after so many years without one. However, just as Pawling residents depend on the publication to provide coverage of community, commerce, and culture, TPR must also now depend on Pawling for assistance. Simply put, The Pawling Record needs the continued support of not only local businesses but also the community as a whole to survive. We urge anyone who enjoys the publication to please help support our continued service to the community.