As mentioned in earlier posts, the Portland Mercury—along with so many other small local businesses—has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the state government has been forced to declare bans on gatherings of over 250 people, our stream of revenue has virtually disappeared overnight—largely because our primary advertising base caters directly to the act of "gathering," whether it be music venues, theaters, restaurants, bars, or shops. Make no mistake, the state is absolutely right to take these drastic measures in order to save peoples' lives. So while this crisis may have severely limited our ability to bring in enough revenue to operate as we've been successfully doing for the past 20 years, the Mercury is 100 percent committed to supporting our community in its efforts to slow down this deadly virus.
We take our job—keeping you both informed and entertained—very seriously, and our devotion to you runs deep. But in order to make sure we survive when this virus is ultimately contained (which we're positive it will be), we're resorting to drastic measures.
First we're temporarily ceasing the publication of our biweekly print edition, and focusing all of our efforts online to ensure you keep receiving the news and information you need to get through this crisis. We love our newspaper, and we look at it as our personal art project—but it's just too expensive to produce right now. We hope this scenario will change and we'll eventually return to publishing our fun, feisty biweekly, which is our first and greatest love. That's certainly what we're fighting for, and time will ultimately tell if that's possible. Fingers crossed!
Secondly, we've temporarily laid off 10 members of our beloved staff, spanning editorial, calendar, sales, and circulation, while simultaneously making deep cuts to the remaining managers' salaries. Simply put, losing these employees, even temporarily, is fucking heartbreaking. The friends I work with are the finest people I know, and have supported and educated me in ways that I can't begin to measure. Included in this temporary layoff, who you may be familiar with, are Executive Editor Erik Henriksen, Music Editor Jenni Moore, Arts Editor Suzette Smith, and Copy Chief Robert Ham. We will also temporarily miss members of our behind-the-scenes staff like Art Director Kathleen Marie, Operations Manager Tonya Ray, Sales Executives Anna Nelson and Jen Ritson, Distribution Manager Matt Stanger, and Calendar Editor Chipp Terwilliger. And even though we have every intention of eventually bringing everyone back where they'll continue to impress you with their talent, I don't want to be without any of them for a single day. However, the way I see it, the Mercury has a job to continue, and now that job is more important than ever.
Stay with the Mercury online for the latest updates on the COVID-19 crisis, where the best goddamn news team in town (News Editor Alex Zielinski and Reporter Blair Stenvick) will continue to keep you informed, while also reminding us of who we need to protect. It is so important right now for our community to look past our own personal hardships and privilege (and that especially goes for the Mercury, as we've been very, very lucky for a very long time), and remember our most important job—looking out for each other, especially those who are often forgotten.
Will the Mercury be back in full force after all this has returned to normal? I think so. I hope so. You can bet your ass we'll be trying and fighting as hard as we can—because this city, and everyone in it, is worth it.
We adore you, and after making sure the people in your life are taken care of, we'd appreciate it if you could donate to help keep us around. You can make a one-time contribution or set up a recurring monthly donation. Anything will help, and we know that you'll do what you can, because we do our best for you.
We're rooting for all of us to get through the next weeks and months as a happy, healthy city that's ready to fight the next fight. Thanks, you're the best.