Wednesday, July 17, 2024

This will be the last issue of Cambridge Day, at least for a while.

It was an awfully short run — the newspaper started just Oct. 31 — but Cambridge Day was, more or less, an experiment that its small staff hoped would be successful and ran as though it would be. There’s no point to running an experiment or business as though it will fail.

As I wrote for that first day of publication, “The promise of Cambridge Day is simply to do as well by its hometown as it can for as long as it can.”

That time is over because the money set aside for the experiment is gone. The hope and goal was that as the initial, private investment came to an end for this small, free, daily newspaper, advertising would have ramped up to the point where it could support the paper completely.

This process takes a while. Aside from content, distribution must be consistent, so the paper becomes a reliable presence for readers. Readers must respond to that. Finally, advertisers must see the reliability and response and want to be a part of it.

In the case of Cambridge Day, some early distribution problems delayed that process. And, while advertising was picking up significantly, the amount of advertising dollars being pulled in by Cambridge Day at the moment the initial funding ended was not enough to make an immediate transition from one form of funding to the other.

The newspaper’s staff has enormous gratitude for the advertisers who stepped up and began that process, for the readers who picked up Cambridge Day and called or wrote with their good wishes and for the businesses that provided distribution points for the paper. More gratitude is reserved for the volunteers and contributors to the newspaper itself, the writers, photographers, illustrators and editors who generated the pages that captured reader attention and advertiser interest.

It is the staff’s intention to find funding to continue the process.

Look for Cambridge Day’s return.

Businesses are cautious with their advertising dollars because things have been, and continue to be, tough in Cambridge. It’s a bitter truth because if there was a theme that ran through Cambridge Day’s news coverage, features, commentary and advertising, it was the need to support and nurture these small businesses back to health. Cambridge Day wanted to be part of a renaissance, and how sad it is that the struggle prevents that.

But if there’s been real disappointment over the short life of the newspaper, it’s over how little residents used its commentary page as a home for their musings, disputes or need to vent. Since Oct. 31, there have been as many letters to the editor from Cambridge in The New York Times as there have been in Cambridge Day — an absurd comparison for a number of reasons, true, but one that seems unavoidable for a newspaper whose home is next to the “most opinionated zip code in America.”

One would think that, even if money is short in Cambridge, opinions are not, and both are signs of good health in a community.

I hope the return of Cambridge Day brings increasing evidence of that good health.