WESTFORD — As local newspapers continue to struggle amid massive budget cuts and layoffs, your local PEG station (short for Public, Education and Government) has continued to provide residents easy access to local government, showcase exciting student achievements and protect the first amendment rights of residents.
Westford is not unique – hundreds of communities across the country are suffering in “news deserts,” where there is little to no local coverage of their communities.
Papers which once covered one town are bought up, regionalized and eventually shut down from lack of funding. For example, one of our most valuable local papers, which once covered Westford, was merged with a neighboring paper. After a few short years, its parent company ceased print publication with digital publication ending soon after.
Other regional papers continue to cover their communities as much as possible, but many papers lack the resources to adequately staff a newsroom to cover each of its communities in-depth. Papers which once covered most line items on a School Committee agenda are relegated to biannual Town Meeting coverage and the occasional local controversy.
WestfordCAT is a bit different. We are one of the few PEG stations to have a full-time news department – separate from sporting broadcasts and livestream coverage of local government.
Our operation is funded primarily by a cable franchise fee – a small fee collected from each cable subscriber for using the town’s property right-of-way for cable lines. As the number of cable subscriptions have decreased, so has our funding.
As a result, we’ve had to rely more heavily on donations, fundraisers and supplemental town and state funding. Luckily for WestfordCAT – as a non-profit run only on funding from TV subscribers and readers, we are not beholden to advertisers.
With the passage of a supplemental economic development bill at the state level, Rep. James Arciero secured a $25,000 investment for WestfordCAT, noting our operation is the “information lifeline” for Westford.
This funding is a step in maintaining our high-quality and free local journalism to the residents of Westford, but we could use your help.
Those of you who I’ve met and spoken about my work as editor at the WestfordCAT know I am not the person to push ads or to solicit donations, but unfortunately, it’s necessary in continuing to provide local coverage to our town.
Please help WestfordCAT continue to grow by becoming a member or sending a one-time or recurring donation. Every dollar, no matter how much, helps sustain our journalism and keep our community informed.
Local journalism is vital to our communities. As other publications shift focus toward regional journalism, WestfordCAT continues to provide high-quality hyperlocal reporting to our town, free for everyone to read. So — we have a small favor to ask. Every contribution, no matter how big or small, helps us sustain our journalism and keep our community informed. Please consider supporting WestfordCAT for as little as $1 on PayPal.