What has kept you going this year? A Zoom call with your family? The heroism of our front-line workers? Rediscovering Maine’s beauty outdoors? The outpouring of donations in support of those in need?

In this time of tremendous loss, sacrifice, hardship and uncertainty, it’s crucial to find something to keep you going.

For us at the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, what has helped keep us going is the support we received from all of you — our readers.

Your support through subscriptions and donations, along with a needed lifeline from the Paycheck Protection Program, made it possible for us to report thoroughly on this year of unprecedented news, with our pandemic coverage at the center of it all.

Our reporters were at every CDC press conference, questioning state officials on behalf of your safety. And we went deeper, illustrating how the coronavirus affected patients, health care workers and others; revealing shortcomings in the efforts to protect us and slow the virus; probing the impacts on restaurants and other small businesses.

And while there aren’t many things we’ll miss about 2020, one item we are sad to see go is the “This Day in Maine History” feature, expertly crafted by former KJ and Sentinel editor Joe Owen. Our thanks to Joe for bringing this daily reminder of Maine’s rich history to our readers!

From the “Maine Acts of Kindness” features to our coverage on every aspect of the pandemic, the case counts, the vaccination progress, the economic recovery, we have your back more than ever.

And you have had ours. For the first time in our history, we received donations in support of our work, made possible through our membership with the Local Media Association, an industry trade group. In addition to the much needed financial support from hundreds of you, it was the comments you sent us that lifted us up. Like these:

• “Please keep the local news coming. We’ve been so isolated these past few months as well as being a sparsely populated state. WE NEED YOU!! Kudos to the dedicated delivery people too.”

• “The Morning Sentinel has been a valued way to relax at the end of the day and a valued tool as an educator for many years. My day is not complete without reading the paper. Thank you for your valued service.”

• “I have been reading the KJ since the late 1960s & have subscribed for over 40 years.”

• “You’re always an essential service, now more than ever. Thank you for being there!”

Your belief in our work was also validated through your subscription renewals and growth of digital subscriptions. For us, this signals that it is our journalism that is valued most and that the delivery method is secondary.

But our loyal home delivery print customers need not worry as we share your love for reading our work in the printed format. As two longtime subscribers wrote with their donation, “We’ve been enjoying your good work for years and years.” Those who have stuck with us through industry-wide delivery challenges in recent years should know that our dedicated delivery staff will still be there for you.

Like many other businesses, we have had to adapt to the realities of doing business during a pandemic. Keeping our staff safe and healthy has been a primary objective. Most of our employees were able to transition quickly to working from home, while our press operators and distribution staff continued to report to our South Portland facility to print and assemble our newspapers. The resilience, tenacity and commitment to our mission“to be a powerful force for good”is felt to the core by every member of our stafffrom our editors to our finance team.  

What does the future hold for our newspapers? We remain very optimistic, especially as we see members of Congress turn their attention to the negative role that social media giants are playing in the national debate. Social media are echo chambers powered by algorithms programmed to feed you viewpoints that they know you already hold so you will keep clicking. Unlike us, these platforms are not there to inform you, and they don’t care about protecting democracy.

We’re attracting the next generation of readers, who are realizing that relying on social media isn’t the best way to get their news. We were heartened by this note signed by a “grateful college student” who wrote, Thank you for providing accurate news and being such a reliable source! All of us college kids truly appreciate you!!

We are so grateful for your support. Stay safe until it’s your turn to get vaccinatedLet’s push through this together and onto a better 2021.

Lisa DeSisto is the publisher of the Kennebec Journal, Morning Sentinel and Central Maine Sunday, as well as CEO of Masthead Maine, the state’s largest media group.

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