The coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of abating. The impact of that has both economic and public health implications.

Some practices have shown to curb the virus’ spread, chiefly the wearing of face coverings, increased hand washing, social distancing and limiting one’s public activities. But while those have demonstrated the ability to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases, they also have flattened the economy.

Hundreds of businesses continue to struggle, even weeks after “reopening” and adhering to many of the health guidelines.

The Pilot has spent the past three months chronicling the coronavirus and its communitywide impacts, but we haven’t talked much about what it’s done to us as a business. Although all of our concerns have continued — the newspaper, our family of magazines, the digital services agency, The Country Bookshop — they had done so at reduced capacity and substantially reduced revenues.

Speaking only of the newspaper, we essentially cut the paper in half in mid-March — going from four standalone sections to two — to account for the large loss of advertising revenue. Normally, losing that kind of space would be disastrous from a news perspective. But when life basically went into lockdown for two months, much of our regular news just stopped: No “Out and About” photo features, no bridge results, no sports, public meetings occurring only via computer link.

As editor, I also made the call to discontinue using a number of the columnists, correspondents and free

lancers that we have used in the past, solely as a money-saving measure.

With newspapers, your two biggest costs, not surprisingly, are people and paper. But Publisher David Woronoff and I, early on in the coronavirus crisis, made a commitment not to compromise The Pilot’s news staff.

That decision has paid off in delivering an unprecedented level and amount of authoritative coverage regarding the coronavirus. As I wrote recently in another column, we increased our Pilot’s Briefing email newsletter from two nights a week to five. We began producing nightly 5 p.m. live newscasts on Facebook. More stories got posted online faster.

But we still needed to align expenses across the company with our lower revenue expectations. And so, within the news operation, one choice we have made to help achieve that goal is to eliminate the weekly TV Guide.

For years, The Pilot has purchased, via a syndicated service, daily grids for all the major television channels. The cost to purchase, produce and print those each Sunday is $50,000. That is not a trivial expense for a small community newspaper like The Pilot.

Now, for some of you, we know this will come as no great shock to your system. Many of you haven’t used a TV Guide for years, especially given the prevalence of streaming and on-demand programming.

And yet, there are still some of you out there who find great utility and value in the Guide. At least once a month I’m good for a phone call from someone complaining about some programming error in the publication. My dad made a point of pulling the Guide out every week, folding it twice — just so — and placing it on the table beside his chair in the Carolina room of his house. He consulted it regularly.

What can I say? It’s a generational thing.

For those of you for whom this news is upsetting, I apologize. When we surveyed readers two years ago about the TV Guide, we got some passionate replies from folks. Some threatened to cancel subscriptions. Others said the Guide was the only reason they got The Pilot.

But given the choice between eliminating this or laying off 1 ½ full-time staffers, I choose to protect people. So Sunday, June 28, will be the final TV Guide. Cutting that product, while regrettable, will allow The Pilot to maintain the level and quality of award-winning journalism you’ve come to expect from this community newspaper.

Contact editor John Nagy at (910) 693-2507 or john@thepilot.com.

(4) comments

Patricia Bryan

I forgot to mention the elimination of the TV guide, which I thought was probably coming. We subscribe to a daily paper that provides a TV Guide in the Sunday edition, one of the few useful things besides a daily crossword and bridge column that it publishes. The Pilot puts it to shame because of its slanted style of "journalism" (almost everything should be on Opinion pages) and total disregard for good layout and proofing. It used to be a fine newspaper, locally owned and published.

Patricia Bryan

Not sure Kent is actually living in the past - just a cheap present. We pay for cable because it is what we can use without getting too technological. We recently had to buy a new television because our 12 year old Sony (flat screen) finally died. We made an appointment at Best Buy, the salesman assured us we would have no problem hooking the new on up though it is a "smart tv" but we are not so smart people. Because apparently neither the salesman nor the customer is allowed to touch anything, we could not look at the back of the new television for the hookups. Very poor limited instructions were impossible for us to understand. It was enough of a struggle to get the thing out of the box and into the house, and put the feet on it. We had to pay someone to hook it up for us, making sure none of it was mixed with the internet since there are a lot of dangers if you don't know what you are doing these days. We are elderly, somewhat handicapped, so once again Kent is assuming we are dispensable, his attitude previously displayed toward the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kent Misegades

CDC, June 6th: “Nationally, levels of influenza-like illness (ILI) and COVID-19-like illness (CLI) continue to decline or remain stable at low levels.“ What’s a TV? We’ve streamed for years, mostly documentaries and older (decent) movies on YouTube. There are thousands and thousands of them. We choose what we wish to see, haven’t paid for cable or paid movie sites in many years. Generally most black and white movies are safe - free from profanity and violence, back when actors and story lines were worth watching and they kept their clothes on.

Dan Roman

Normal human beings are capable of understanding change and adapting.

Kent not so much. Living in the past and being terrified of the present must be terrible.

Covid-19 statistics have changed radically from June 6 to June 15, spikes in the numbers in many states.

If all you know of the world is old monochrome movies you are ignorant concerning current events.

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