Loop Weekly publisher Tim Wood announced officially Monday that the former newspaper published in print and online at LoopWeekly.com will resume publishing in October, but with a new name.
“We heard from many folks that as catchy as the name Loop Weekly is, that it doesn’t speak specifically to our mission and that it, at times, could be confused as being a publication of one of the city’s most important commercial hubs, The Loop,” Wood said. “We feel that the new name, Methuen Today, is a clearer, simpler representation of what we do and when we publish.”
Wood joked that even he was aware that, even at the height of its two-year schedule, Loop Weekly was published regularly every other week.
“Our initial plan was to indeed publish weekly, thus the name. We figured we were alright keeping the name since it was bi-weekly, but point taken for sure,” he said. “Methuen Today is all about the city and everything that makes it the vibrant place residents and fans of the area know it to be.”
The Loop Weekly founder, publisher and editor will assume the same roles with the new effort, as well as continue to produce the video podcast shows “Looped In Live,” “Ranger Nation Radio” and “MVC Gridiron Weekly.”
Wood said that the new effort will use some of the slogans and names formerly associated with Loop Weekly, such as “Are you in the loop?” and the “Looped In Live” brand.
In addition, the new operation plans to expand its offering of shows, offering businesses and citizens the ability to start up their own shows online with the latest technology.
“I have wanted to be a journalist since I was 8 years old when I saw a neighbor and his dog wrongfully accused of being at the center of a dog bite scandal in our neighborhood,” Wood said. “I honed my craft first as a print journalist, so it’s sad to say we won’t be continuing the print edition … for now. But the mission and my passion for producing community journalism is stronger than ever.”
Wood said that the overhead costs with newsprint and newspaper production have become prohibitive, as has the time investment needed to produce a newspaper with a small staff.
“We thank the many partners that chose to advertise in Loop Weekly,” Wood said. “We step away from the print product knowing that we delivered on our promise to give partners the most promotion at a cost that was affordable enough for them to be able to participate. We will continue that with the Methuen Today website, which will be launching later this week.”
Wood said that with the changing pace of news gathering and the ever-shrinking number of local news sources, the online and digital medium allows for a more agile, more cost-effective means to professionally cover news with less obstacles to informing the citizens of the Merrimack Valley.
“Since I was first paid as a reporter in 1989, I have always adapted to the times and I believe that while more media conglomerates gobble up news operations and then gut the newsrooms that produce that news, true local, independent community journalism is more vital than ever,” he said. “Online gives small businesses like myself the ability to compete with larger companies while still giving other small businesses a thriving and cost-effective platform to promote themselves.”
Wood has recently returned from a months-long absence, which he explained in a Facebook post on Sept. 7, 2019. He said he was first addressing health concerns with family members, but then had to deal with a months-long health scare himself.
“My family and I are both healthy and can’t thank the folks enough that reached out and supported since I made the decision to pause operations in February,” he said. Wood said it’s the support and the feedback he received about Loop Weekly and its vital role in the community that convinced him to return and evolve the operation.
He said that Methuen Today and all the online show productions will be part of a larger nonprofit news organization he is forming.
“We will offer the product free without a paywall for as long as we publish, that’s a guarantee,” he said. “Access to community news is a vital way of connecting folks and should not be a privilege of only those that can afford access to it.
“We hope that folks will support the nonprofit organization with occasional or regular donations and that eventually, community support and national nonprofit news grants will be the main means of financial support, with underwriting from local businesses and community groups just one part of the soon-to-be-announced organization’s operational model,” Wood said.
“This is a crucial time for Methuen and for local journalism in general, and in protecting the integrity and ability to publish that news without corporate or political influence,” he said. “Just as we did with Loop Weekly, we will give everything we have to provide residents an impartial and respectable news source. Just as this has been an interactive effort since Day One, we will need that more than ever from folks who support community journalism moving forward.”