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The Citizen is for sale

Buy this newspaper

After almost five years and 281 consecutive weekly issues, the time has come for me to pass the baton. So consider this your own personal Request for Proposal to own and operate The Carrboro Citizen.

What has led me to this point you ask? While there are a number of reasons, the one that stands out is that my energy and enthusiasm for this newspaper have waned under the constant assault of all the worries associated with running a small business. And I’ve been actively operating small businesses since 1977. I guess I’m just tired.

This is a highly non-traditional method of seeking new ownership, but unlike any other publication with which I’ve been involved The Citizen belongs mostly to the readers, and it’s the readers who should have first crack at continuing what we’ve begun.

I have no interest in seeing this newspaper acquired by someone who would change its focus from nuanced, community-focused journalism. Those folks can go start their own publication.

This newspaper has always been about the journalism, pure and simple. And you readers have emphatically told us again and again that you like what we’re doing. For example, in 2012 we have distributed an average of 7,315 papers per week, with an average pickup of 90 percent. In the free newspaper business, that’s a huge number.

Based on industry standards, and coupled with our web readers, this means that there are more than 15,000 of you consistently reading what we have to say. And why not? After all, it’s all about you and your community.

Make no mistake about it – The Citizen has been a financial burden. That’s definitely a part of the weariness I’m feeling. The contrast of our strong readership success with these financial issues, however, while highlighting the challenges facing our industry, presents a manageable conundrum.

Manageable, that is, by the right person or group who sees the value of what we’ve built here, and who has the energy and resources to take on this task.

Who will it be? Am I the only person who believes our community deserves quality locally owned and operated long-form journalism, and is willing to back up that belief with money and time? I sure hope not.

Here’s the punch line: If a qualified successor isn’t soon found, The Citizen will cease publication sometime in the fall. Not before, however, we bring you another awesome Carrboro Resource Guide (9/6) and Carrboro Music Festival special section (9/27).

So call me, send an email or stop by the office. Your newspaper needs you.

Robert Dickson, Publisher
(919) 942-2100

6 Responses

Comments (6)

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  1. Chuck Smith

    sad to hear you are so tired. you’ve been an honest, truthful and valued friend and business associate all these years. I hope you find a buyer quickly. Thenyou can get to the beach and melt away. After reading your letter to the public I had an image flash in my brain. It was from an 1970’s edition of National Lampoon, On the front cover was a dog with a handgun pointed at his head and headline was “Buy This Magazine Or We’ll Shoot This Dog.”

  2. Donna Campbelll

    Please say it isn’t so!
    First, thanks for even pubishing this great newspaper in our uncertain times.
    Second, surely someone will want to carry the torch. Wish I was 30 years younger…
    Thank you for everything you and Susan have done!

  3. Bree Kalb

    I don’t know how I’ll get through the week without the Citizen. Even if an angel sweeps in and buys the paper, I don’t think it will be the same. You are so valuable to the community. Only one example is the excellent and informed reporting on mental health issues.

  4. Peter Lee

    What if a group of local citizen investors chose to provide financial backing? What if an experienced newspaper manager/editor would then take on the operational challenges? What if different organizational or operational structures were possible, such as a co-op or ????

    What are your ideas, and how might you be willing to participate?

    I’m willing to invest, and I can’t do it alone–not enough $$, no news paper experience. Just a desire to find a way to keep the Citizen going.

  5. Mia Prior

    Just want to say how much I have grown to love this little local newspaper. It looks so good, has come out on time each week & covers real local stories. Papers like this can become the heart and soul of a community. I do hope you can hand it over to someone and not just let it die. There is a real need for this kind of publication, especially now when the bigger dailies are cutting more and more local coverage due to financial woes. I worked as a volunteer for 10 years helping produce the Prism newspaper (1990-2000), which tried to cover local issues here with all volunteer staff. It was hard, and a small miracle we lasted 10 years. I hope the Citizen can keep going. I might be able to help in some way, but no longer have much time and money. Hope younger folk might step in to save it! All the best.

  6. Dana Fitz-Simons

    Is is possible to support the paper with annual donations from Citizen readers? I would certainly be willing to make annual donations like I do for public radio. I can’t do a lot but if enough folk got involved would it be possible to keep the paper going? I would hate to lose this paper. It’s the only paper in which I’ve seen good things happen for people I actually know and stories on subjects that really affect our community. It’s worth supporting and I’m sure I’m not alone in this view.