Yesterday, the Visayan DAILY STAR celebrated its 39th year of service to the people of Negros Island.
After barely managing to survive through one of the most difficult years of its existence as a local daily newspaper, this year’s anniversary is a milestonethose of us who are connected to the DAILY STAR have every reason to celebrate.
Loyal readers know that when our newspaper stopped publishing in October last year, for the first and only time since it started operations on April 12, 1982, everyone thought that was the end of the DAILY STAR. The Covid-19 pandemic and the economic disaster that followed immediately after would’ve claimed another struggling business and there was no shame in surrendering.
The DAILY STAR was struggling. Print sales were declining. There was no online business model because we were giving away our hard-earned news for free on the internet and social media. The situation had already been worrisome in the years leading up to the pandemic but the economic crash caused by the government’s lockdowns and quarantines made the decision to shutdown a no-brainer. It was an easy but at the same time terribly difficult decision to make.
From 1982 to 2020, the DAILY STAR was always there and while Negrenses obviously appreciated us, they had also taken it for granted. Just because the newspaper came out every day without fail, everyone assumed that business was great and we were doing well.
Everything came to a head when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the crash in advertising and street sales forced management to consider the unthinkable. The Visayan DAILY STAR could no longer afford to operate.
The newspaper disappeared for almost a month but the passion of our founder, Editor in Chief Ninfa “Twinkling” Leonardia, assisted by her supporters, who continued to believe in her and the brand that she had painstakingly built from the ground up, the indefatigableDAILY STAR brand was able to find a way to crawl back after less than a month.
It was our community that saved the DAILY STAR. People who continued to believe in it pitched in and because of that, we are here today, celebrating 39 years of existence while looking forward to more years of service to the people of Negros.During those few weeks that we were gone, it was the outpouring of concern and support that fueled our determination to find the ways and means to stage a comeback.
We celebrate our 39th anniversary with guarded optimism. A pandemic is still raging. Our economy is in shambles. Press freedom is still under attack, making work difficult for journalists who are still mostly underpaid and under-appreciated.Additionally, social media and alternative sources of “news” continue to demean the value of honest-to-goodness journalism.
What gives us reason to go on is our faith in the Negrense community. We are confident that the readers, subscribers, advertisers, and supporters who did not allow the DAILY STAR to fade away will be there for us when the economy finally picks up and that is why we are determined to weather the storm for as long as we can.
We are happy and relieved that the DAILY STAR gets to celebrate its 39th anniversary but, at the same time, the future remains uncertain. As much as we want to be optimistic on the chances of our brand and business model finding the ways to evolve and emerge from this crisis better equipped for a digital future, many challenges still remain. But, as long as we can continue to earn the trust and support of the community we have been serving to the best of our abilities for 39 years, we should be able to survive and hopefully thrive.
Your Visayan DAILY STAR is fortunate to have earned enough goodwill to have a sizable community behind itbut let us remember that is not the only business or service counting on our community to get us through these ultra-challenging times. Our country is still battling the twin pandemics of the coronavirus and incompetence, and that means we will need to be there for each other even more. The survival story of the DAILY STAR needs to be replicated all over the island and our communities will have to do their share to support the ventures, businesses and services worth saving.
We are not the only company that dreams of celebrating our 40th anniversary next year. All the others that have managed to survive up to now also want to be around by next year. Because 2021 is still going to be a challenge for most of us, our sense of community will have to step up if we are going to keep those who are already having difficulty surviving from tapping out.
I am hopeful that the Negrense community has what it takes to survive this crisis. Together, we are stronger and that sense of community is what we are all counting on as we strive to survive this year and hope to make it to the following year.*