by Gazette Staff
HARDWICK — The Hardwick Gazette is entering the final stages of its transition from a commercial enterprise to a nonprofit organization.
The new organization now has a board of directors (see related article), which has reviewed and finalized a draft of its bylaws. Work on several legal and financial details is expected to be completed within the next few weeks.
Once the transition is officially complete, the board will assume responsibility for the Gazette’s strategy and provide oversight of the organization’s finances and operations.
The day-to-day operations of the paper will be overseen by an executive director, who will report to the board. No staffing changes are planned.
The change to a nonprofit is necessary due to the economic environment facing small, local newspapers. Approximately 2,500 local weekly papers (a third of the total in 2004) have gone out of business in less than 20 years as ad spending shifted from newsprint to digital platforms. The Gazette made significant progress toward financial break-even between 2017 and 2019 and seemed able to continue as a commercial operation. In 2020, however, the COVID outbreak closed many local businesses that advertised with the paper, reducing advertising revenues by 90 percent and forcing the paper to eliminate its printed edition.
Ray Small, editor and publisher, said that “The Gazette has played a vital role in Hardwick and surrounding towns since 1889. My wife, Kim, and I have supported the paper financially for the last seven years, but the post-pandemic economic situation requires a new approach to keeping the paper going. I am confident that the paper can run on a sustainable basis as a nonprofit and look forward to working with the board during this transition.”
The Gazette will provide updates on progress toward the launch of the nonprofit in the coming weeks.