03:03PM, Thursday 30 July 2020
Shops have reopened, gyms are back in business, sport is on the television and publicans are pulling pints again.
The lockdown continues to ease and many of the freedoms we have missed over the past four months are available to us once more.
But coronavirus remains a constant threat and our lives are far from back to normal. So where do we go from here?
It is a question many of us, including the team at the Express, have been asking as we cautiously learn to live with this terrible virus.
This edition of the Express is the 19th we have produced since we shut our offices and moved to home working.
What once seemed impossible has now become routine and I could not be prouder of the team for what they have achieved in incredibly challenging circumstances.
The financial impact of the pandemic on the entire newspaper industry has been stark. Publications large and small have suffered after the advertising industry – our main source of income – collapsed.
At the Express, we had to take action to protect the future of the business.
Staff were furloughed, savings were made and both the Express and our sister publication, the Maidenhead Advertiser, had to be reduced in size.
But we took extraordinary steps to keep people informed during the peak, introducing an optional ‘pay if you can’ feature for our paid online articles.
Many of our readers have remained supportive throughout this crisis, understanding the challenges we face and the amount of work that is being put in to keep bringing you the news when our role as journalists is of the utmost importance.
I thank you for this support. It has kept us going.
COVID-19 has not gone away and the financial situation remains challenging but, as businesses reopen and begin to advertise again, the time is right to look to the future.
Over the coming months, we intend to slowly bring back furloughed staff to boost our news output for the Express and Advertiser.
It will not happen overnight, and it must be sustainable.
Good quality news coverage takes time and money to produce, and reader support is vital now and in the months ahead.
To help realise our ambitions, we will be returning to our previous system of charging for the premium articles on our website from next week.
Using the Axate payment system, just 20p will get you a full day’s reading of the best of local news online.
This may not be popular with everyone, but news is not free to produce and financial sustainability is essential for growth.
Don’t forget, at least 80 per cent of our profits go back into the community through the Louis Baylis Trust and every time you buy a newspaper or pay for an article online you are supporting trusted journalism.
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