KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Northeast News has been a Kansas City fixture since 1932, with a circulation of 9,000 delivered newspapers.
It recently gained national attention for one of its latest publications.
“They want to see how things are going positively and you know sometimes negatively in their neighborhood,” said managing editor Abby Hoover.
That’s been Northeast News’ mission for decades, with a coverage map from 12th Street up to the river and Interstate 435 to Columbus Park. Navigating the pandemic has taken its toll.
“We lost some key accounts, at the end of December at the end of the year, a grocery store, a couple of laundromats and a charter school all pulled their advertising,” said publisher Michael Bushnell.
The paper needed a call to action for its readers.
“What message can we send to the community of what it's going to be like without a community newspaper?” Bushnell posed to his staff.
An idea was born.
“Why don't we print a blank front page? And then there was silence," Bushnell recalled.
Silence spoke volumes in the March 24 edition of the Northeast News. The front page was completely blank.
“Initially the reaction was on people calling us messaging us on Facebook saying, you know, I think you guys messed up something went wrong with the printer,” Hoover recalled.
But there was no error.
“We didn't post anything to any of our digital sites,” Bushnell said.
They didn’t print news in that edition, just columns, with one reading “we challenge you dear reader, to think about what value The Northeast News adds to our community.”
Then the national spotlight arrived.
“We were getting national attention, which I never could have imagined,” Hoover said.
“Holy cow. We had no idea,” Bushnell added.
National publications shined a light on that front page, leading to thousands of dollars in donations.
“Seeing how many people appreciate us, you know, you kind of sometimes feel like you're just shouting into the void,” Hoover said.
The Northeast News decided those dollars should stay local, and not necessarily go into the paper’s pocket.
“Support our advertisers, because the majority of our revenue comes from our local advertisers, a lot of them are small businesses, immigrant-owned businesses, you know, right here in the community,” Hoover said. “We wanted to send the message that community journalism matters and it is vital to the good health of a community."