This week marks a major milestone for Mainstreet Daily News. Last year, on June 29, we launched our print edition—and we’ve printed a newspaper every week since then.
In addition to 8,000 copies delivered to homes, Mainstreet is available at more than 60 single copy locations around Alachua County. The increasing requests for more papers and more locations, along with advertisers telling us about strong responses to their ads, are encouraging signs of the strong demand for local journalism in our community.
“Kudos to Mainstreet Daily News for their exceptional achievement of being the sole organization within the state, during my tenure as President of the Florida Press Association, to successfully transition their digital-first newspaper into an impressive weekly print publication,” FPA President Jim Fogler said in a statement.
Mainstreet launched as an online-only outlet in 2020 to help fill the gaps in local news coverage. In our first two years, we saw several area newspapers close their doors and proliferate those gaps.
That trend continued over the last year, as Gainesville’s only other free newspaper stopped printing and CBS4 shuttered its local news operation last month.
“Anytime we lose a news organization, I think it’s harmful to the community,” Mayor Harvey Ward said of the CBS4 development. “They had invested, I felt like, pretty heavily in the community, and they had three local reporters who were very earnest and doing a really great job of doing background work, which is what’s missing in a lot of stories.”
Ward’s comments came during his weekly media availability at City Hall—where, on the week I attended, it was easy to see his point. Mainstreet’s Seth Johnson was the only reporter present as the mayor spoke.
The scene reminded me of a 2018 study led by Duke University professor Philip Napoli. His research team studied 100 communities outside of major U.S. media markets and found that just 17% of news stories provided to a community were truly local—which they defined as being “about or having taken place within the municipality.”
With this in mind, I checked Mainstreet’s numbers for the month of May. Our team published 178 stories “about or having taken place” within our coverage area. That’s an average of almost six stories per day.
The type of stories we published is also a crucial metric. The Duke researchers found that only 12% of stories in the 2018 study were about local news, produced locally, and addressed critical information—defined as issues pertaining to emergencies and risks, health, education, civic life, political life, transportation, environment and planning or economic development.
How does Mainstreet stack up? Setting aside 38 sports stories in May, we published 104 stories that were about local news, produced locally, and addressed critical information. That’s 74% of our news stories.
Our team has worked hard to earn your trust and deliver the information you need in a timely manner. We have plans for even more, but we cannot do it alone.
Please consider supporting our work by making an individual contribution online, buying an ad, or supporting our advertisers. That may mean doing business with advertisers, but it also could mean simply letting them know that you saw their ad. Thank them for supporting local journalism.
Mayor Ward said there is also something every neighbor can do: spread the word.
“Consume local media and tell a friend that you’re consuming that local media, so that [outlet] can thrive,” he said. “Make sure you treasure what exists.”