ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Connection Newspaper Group, a Virginia chain of weekly community newspapers based in Alexandria and circling the beltway from Mount Vernon to Potomac, MD, recently email-blasted its subscribers and advertisers asking them to “Save the Alexandria Gazette Packet and affiliated newspapers” which was accompanied by a link to a Go Fund Me site organized by the media company’s publisher, Jerry Vernon.
Citing lost ad dollars, the plea for funds states, “The pandemic has hit small businesses hard, which in turn has reduced advertising revenue.”
Ask any group of people in town about the historic Alexandria Gazette Packet, and voices will quickly rise up, volunteering things like “I used to deliver the Gazette”, “My dad delivered the Gazette on his bicycle in Rosemont”, “My birth was announced in the Gazette” or “I remember when they merged with the Port Packet back in the eighties.”
Sentiments like these are what the newspaper group is hoping will pull them through this challenging time. “If your child, dog, mother, father, neighborhood, school has been featured, you understand the value of a local community newspaper,” writes Vernon in the Go Fund Me description.
The flagship product of the group, the Alexandria Gazette Packet traces its roots back to colonial times when it was originally founded as the Virginia Journal in 1784. Over the last 236 years, the paper has continuously published under various mastheads including the Alexandria Daily Gazette Commercial & Political and the Alexandria Gazette & Daily Advertiser. The last mast change took place in the mid-1980s, when the broadsheet daily Alexandria Gazette merged with the trendier tabloid-sized Port Packet creating the weekly edition of today called The Alexandria Gazette Packet.
Today, the historic archives from 1784 of the daily Alexandria paper can be searched in local libraries partly on microfilm and also through search engines, and are providing much assistance to genealogical and historic research.
In its first five days, the community crowd sourcing effort has reached $6,308 of its $50,000 goal. According to the campaign, “The funds raised will be used to continue providing vital community dialogue and meeting obligations to our loyal and patient employees, contractors and suppliers due to continuing loss of advertising.”