Almost 28 years ago Charlie Smith saw the need and had the vision of providing a source of news for the disability community, not only in the Twin Cities, but for greater Minnesota. Charlie’s vision came to fruition with the first issue of Access Press in May 1990, just prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). We eventually lost Charlie and Tim Benjamin has taken the torch passed to him by Charlie in 2001.
Since the time of that first issue much has changed in our community and in our world. With the passage of the ADA many positive changes that we had been fighting for came to fruition. However, there are many more accessibility issues that we continue to work for. We went from getting our news from primarily the TV and newspaper to being able to access the news 24/7 on our phones, or even our watches! The pace and the amount of news available to us is mind-boggling. Through it all Access Press has continued to be the news resource for the disability community and the voice of the voiceless.
Access Press has always tried to be as transparent as possible, in the news that we provide and in the way the organization operates. The Board of Directors, Tim and the staff of the paper have been and continue to be dedicated to the mission of the paper. With that in mind, the board of directors need to make some hard choices. Without philanthropic financial support Access Press business model is not sustainable. We have had to ask ourselves if a print newspaper is still the best communications channel for Access Press business model.
Access Press has always relied on our readers and donor for financial support, but that kind of revenue has been shrinking because people have less disposable income and more concerns about how they can meet their own basic needs. Grant funding for non-profits is also harder to secure. We continue to pursue those grants that afford us the greatest flexibility in meeting our needs, but that takes time and human resources. We also rely on our advertisers but their budgets are squeezed by a volatile economy and decisions to support less print and more electronic advertising. We also don’t want a paper that is more ads than content.
The bottom line is we really need your help, NOW! Without additional financial support Access Press as you have known it all these years will cease to exist before the end of 2018. We want to continue to be here for the community at a time when we really need a dedicated source of news that talks about the issues that we are all facing. We all know too well that most of the mainstream media is only interested in inspirational success stories. But Access
Press is your primary resource for finding accessible housing, employment, health care, independence, entertainment and civil rights that enables our community to thrive.
All of the great work that you see in Access Press happens with a small, part time staff. We need your financial help to continue to deliver disability news about events and resources to you in print and electronic formats and in the metro and out-state Minnesota. In today’s world print media is only one source of information and as dedicated as the Access Press staff is, that will not be enough. Help us to help you stay informed. We welcome your feedback. The board of directors is looking to you to help us continue moving forward.
Anyone wishing to contact the newspaper staff and board may do so at email@example.com.
This article was written by Access Press Board Chair Steve Anderson and Vice Chair Kristin Jorenby