After Stephen King Tweeted at a Maine Paper for Cutting Book Reviews, It Gave Readers a ‘Scary Good’ Offer
When the biggest day-to-day newspaper in Maine made up our minds it was once going to forestall publishing regional ebook critiques, it brought about an uproar amongst native writers — one native author specifically.
Stephen King, the best-selling writer from Bangor, Me., complained on Twitter that the newspaper was once taking out the exposure that native writers rely on “to buy bread and milk” and referred to as on his greater than 5 million fans to do so.
“Retweet this if you’re from Maine (or even if you’re not),” he tweeted on Friday. “Tell the paper DON’T DO THIS.”
The newspaper, The Portland Press Herald, promptly spoke back with a problem: If Mr. King may get his fans to shop for 100 virtual subscriptions, it could deliver again the native critiques.
The trade took off on social media as The Press Herald led a marketing campaign to get readers to subscribe. “We’d be willing to bet a retweet by @StephenKing would get us over the threshold,” the newspaper tweeted on Saturday morning.
“Sales pitch? Blackmail?” Mr. King wrote again. “Either way, 71 people have subscribed so far. Are there 29 more Twitterheads out there who want to ante up? Just asking.”
Subscriptions got here pouring in from around the nation.
By Sunday, The Press Herald had doubled its purpose, with about 200 new subscriptions in not up to 48 hours, Lisa DeSisto, leader government of MaineNowadays Media, which publishes The Press Herald, mentioned on Sunday. The newspaper pledged to proceed the critiques of books about Maine or via Maine authors.
“It’s a Stephen King story with a happy ending,” Ms. DeSisto mentioned, echoing a sentiment expressed on social media after the generally shared Twitter submit via Mr. King, who is understood for his horror writing.
But the trade additionally highlighted the monetary pressures going through native newspapers, that have been hit laborious via cuts.
The collection of newspaper newshounds around the nation dropped via just about part from 2008 to 2017, in step with the Pew Research Center. Last week, The Dallas Morning News laid off 20 newshounds, and The East Bay Express, an alternate weekly newspaper within the Bay Area that received nationwide acclaim for its 2016 exposé of a police intercourse scandal, laid off nearly its whole editorial workforce.
As The Press Herald assessed its budget for 2019, an editor despatched a understand to freelance writers who wrote the regional ebook critiques, informing them that the newspaper may now not fund their paintings. “Like many newspapers, we had to make some tough decisions on what we could continue to support,” Ms. DeSisto mentioned.
But native writers right away — and vocally — lamented the verdict.
“Local coverage in the largest circulation newspaper in the state is crucial to them and their publishers,” mentioned Joshua Bodwell, government director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance. His group began a petition asking the newspaper to rethink its choice and in addition contacted Mr. King, who may now not be reached for touch upon Sunday.
Members of the workforce at The Press Herald noticed Mr. King’s Twitter submit inside of mins, Ms. DeSisto mentioned, and temporarily put in combination a promotional deal that introduced a 12-week subscription for simply $15. The promotion codes — “King” and “Carrie” — have been an ode to the writer and his leap forward horror novel.
“This deal is scary good,” Ms. DeSisto wrote on Twitter.
While some criticized the newspaper for providing to reinstate the ebook critiques simplest in trade for subscriptions — “The word ‘blackmail’ was used,” Mr. Bodwell mentioned — Ms. DeSisto credited her workers for asking the group to pay for the journalism they would like.
“Look, we didn’t want to cut it either,” she mentioned. “We needed to be more direct about the challenges we’re having and we needed their support.”
Mr. Bodwell mentioned he was once satisfied the subscription problem would reinforce the ebook critiques for now, however he referred to as for extra group collaboration going ahead. Since ultimate week, he too had raised cash — sufficient to shop for commercials within the newspaper that might pay for native ebook critiques for about a 12 months, he mentioned.
“We tried to positively rally the community around the cause,” he mentioned. “The newspaper listened. The newspaper responded. That’s kind of a perfect outcome.”
For champions of native journalism, it didn’t harm that considered one of Maine’s most renowned authors weighed in.
“It’s encouraging many Mainers & others have subscribed to help save local book reviews. But, seriously, folks, the chief reason to read your local newspaper is you need local news,” Steve Collins, a reporter for The Sun Journal, a newspaper in Lewiston, Me., tweeted.
“Imagine a Maine where you know nothing about anything that goes on,” he mentioned. “That’s a real horror story.”