After blank front page, newspaper learns it's appreciated

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Copies of the March 24, 2021 edition of The Northeast News featuring a blank front page appear in Kansas City, Mo. on March 26, 2021. The paper chose to leave the front page of their March 24 issue blank to show community members what they'd miss if the newspaper folded. (The Northeast News via AP)

NEW YORK – Stories are back on the cover of Kansas City’s Northeast News this week after the newspaper intentionally printed a blank front page of its previous edition to show community members what they'd miss if the newspaper folded.

On this week's cover of the paper, distributed each Wednesday in one of the Missouri city's grittier neighborhoods, residents were told about the local ironworkers who repaired a fence at a historic cemetery for free.

In the past week, the 89-year-old newspaper has received more than $3,000 in pledged donations, including one from Florida after the blank front page received national attention. A handful of new advertisers have emerged, along with other ideas to keep the Northeast News afloat, said Michael Bushnell, publisher and co-owner.

“We never expected this to blow up like it did,” Bushnell said. “In the end, thank God it did.”

The idea for the blank page was cooked up in a staff meeting, coupled with a decision not to post any news online or answer office phones for 24 hours.

Bushnell was personally inundated with texts and calls when the paper was distributed last week: “Are you aware there's nothing on the front page?” “Your printer might have made a mistake.” He directed friends to open the paper, where managing editor Abby Hoover's column explained why it was done.

Because of the pandemic, two local laundromats, a grocery store and charter school had stopped advertising, making $2,700 in monthly revenue vanish.

Without any changes, the paper had about a 60-day lifespan, she wrote.