It was with a heavy heart Thursday that Katy Calloway, managing editor of the JI Messenger, announced the final issue of the weekly local news publication serving James and Johns islands. In a show of gratitude, Calloway thanked the readers and businesses that supported the newspaper and expressed her hopes and concerns for the community.
“In order to survive as a free periodical, we depend on support from local business owners. It was my hope when purchasing the JIM, that I would be able to convey the significance of community building to potential advertisers; that as a community we would come together to share in local news and celebrations. This challenge was insurmountable,” Calloway writes. “I have realized that James Island struggles with its own identity. Our fragmented neighborhoods and multiple government jurisdictions make it challenging to have a cohesive community. I have learned a lot about our islands and the direction we are moving in. I understand that it is going to take more than a handful of people advocating for moderate and responsible progress to stop the train that is moving us in the direction of Mt. Pleasant or Myrtle Beach.”
Calloway’s announcement comes as local news outlets across the country continue to experience a rapidly changing media landscape. According to the Pew Research Center’s recent State of the News Media report, the newspaper workforce has shrunk by 39 percent in the last two decades. While one-forth of advertising revenue for daily papers now comes from online ads, 51 percent of regular readers report consuming the news in print alone. Last year, newspapers surveyed experienced a 7 percent drop in daily circulation rates, while local television news outlets saw a 5 percent drop in late-night viewership. Among the top 20 newsweeklies in the country, combined average weekly circulation declined by 11 percent in 2015 over the previous year. According to the JI Messenger website, the publication reports a weekly print readership of more than 8,500.