THIS week Craig Borland writes about the effect the coronavirus crisis is having - and will continue to have, long after lockdown restrictions are lifted - on trusted local news providers such as the Advertiser.


IF you keep in touch with the latest Helensburgh and Lomond news headlines on the Advertiser’s website, you may have noticed a message published alongside some of our online articles in the past week or so, asking you to consider giving us a wee bit of extra support during these uncertain times.

Nobody knows how long the coronavirus crisis will last for, and for how long its effects will be felt after lockdown limits have been lifted. So right now I don’t know what the long-term effect on the Advertiser will be.

But we all know that the whole world has experienced nothing like this situation for decades. And that’s true of the news business as much as any other: there may be plenty of Covid-19 news headlines, but that certainly doesn’t mean we’re immune from the effects of the virus.

What we in this industry do know is that government instructions on when and why you’re allowed to leave your home mean people are not going out and buying newspapers in the numbers they used to.

READ MORE: Your letters to the Helensburgh Advertiser : April 9, 2020

We also know that many businesses have shut down for the time being and so don’t have anything to advertise – and that they don’t have money to advertise with.

That means that news companies’ two main sources of income, if not completely cut off, have certainly been dramatically reduced.

And in those circumstances there’s no point in sugar-coating the reality that the future of the Advertiser, and of local and national newspapers throughout this country and around the globe, is under threat like never before.

Newspapers are not alone in facing a grim future. I acknowledge that. I know there are some businesses in Helensburgh and the surrounding area that won’t survive these unprecedented times. And I’m not going to pretend that I don’t know there are people who wouldn’t miss us if we weren’t there.

But imagine life without a trusted source of local news for a minute – and yes, there are plenty of surveys out there that will confirm that no matter how much people might like to have a pop at their “local rag”, local newspapers are consistently seen as a far more trustworthy source of news than most other outlets.

Without a local paper, what would you be left with for local news? Yes, there’s Facebook, Twitter, and the rest, if you’re online and use social media. But anyone can post anything on social media, and despite those platforms’ claims to be tackling misinformation posted on their sites, a lie can still run around the world before the truth has got its boots on.

READ MORE: What are you most looking forward to once lockdown limits are lifted?

There’s local radio, and Scotland-wide TV news bulletins, and regionalised news websites. But we like to think that at the hyper-local level, nobody can do the job of reporting what is happening on your doorstep, in your community, quite as comprehensively as a local newspaper and its website.

And we know, too, that despite the ceaseless march of the internet, there are still plenty of people who rely on the printed version of the Advertiser, for their news.

So what can you do to help? Well, if you’ve already handed over 95 pence for the latest issue of the paper, thank you. I know that money is tight for many of you, but please, keep doing that if you can. If you’re able to buy an extra copy or two, and pop them through a neighbour’s letterbox, that would be even more appreciated.

You can also buy one or more ‘e-editions’ of the paper, if you can’t get a hard copy yourself – that’s an electronic version of the paper that you can view on your computer screen, looking exactly as it would if you were holding a copy in your hand. And, based on the annual subscription rate, that will only cost you 67p per issue. You’ll find the ‘E-Edition’ link close to the top of our home page at

We know how lucky we are to still be working, and to still be able to bring you the news that matters to you from your own community. And while there’s no hiding the difficult times facing us, and the rest of the news industry, what I can do is repeat the promise I made in this space last month: that we will keep reporting as much of the news as we can, to the very best of our ability, and do our level best to live up to the high standards you have set us since the Advertiser first hit the streets in 1957. We ain’t going anywhere yet!

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