CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (WOOD) — Every week, Linda Smalley opens the pages of the Cedar Springs Post to get the news she can’t get elsewhere.

“I read the articles about the school, the sports. I read the obituaries. The lost and found,” said Smalley.

But on this week’s front page the paper itself made headlines, warning readers the next issue could be the last without some help in the form of a GoFundMe account.

“We won’t be able to find out what’s going on in town without the paper. It’s important to us Cedar Springs residents,” said Smalley.

It’s not the New York Times or the Washington Post.

It doesn’t pretend to be.

On the front page of the Cedar Springs Post, the DNR warns of an increase in likely illegal deer killings in Nelson and Spencer Township.

“We cover like five townships, a village and a city,“ said Publisher Lois Allen as she thumbs through a large binder with past edition of the Post.

Inside a recent edition is a story on how you can help support the Cedar Springs Library by buying a handmade birdhouse.

“When our military men go into the service, we print a home town hero for them,” said Allen.

“News You Can Use” is a marketing term used over the years to promote a given publication. In the case of the Cedar Spring Post and so many small-town newspapers, it’s a testament to their mission.

“When you go to the store, you know the people. They make comments, what they like, what they don’t like. And you listen,” said Allen. “In the news business, you’re accountable for the news you run.  It doesn’t mean we don’t get people upset when we print certain stories, and sometimes we lose sponsors because maybe it’s one of their family members.”

The Post, which is free and available on newsstands throughout the Cedar Springs area, has a circulation of about 3,000 a week.

A free online version has about 10,000 views a week. 

“People say, ‘Why don’t you charge for it?’ We’ll, that’s not what a public service does,” said Allen.

Allen never expected to get rich running the small newspaper.

But increased costs and decreased ad revenue has the paper hanging on week by week.

After more than 30 years, she thought about retiring.

“Or I should I give everybody a chance to, if they really want … I should give them a chance to know and maybe contribute,” said Allen.

It’s a struggle felt across the nation by media outlets, from big city newspapers to TV stations.  

But small-town newspapers like the Post are feeling the brunt of the high costs of doing business as advertisers spend their ad dollars elsewhere.

“All these businesses in the area that used to go in the paper don’t do it anymore. They do Facebook, Instagram and all that other stuff,” said Allen about the change in advertising options. 

Allen admits the GoFundMe effort may only provide a last breath for a dying public service.

But she vows to continue as long as possible.

And she tries not to think about what will happen of the Post and small-town papers like it don’t survive.  

“It’s a good question. And it’s a scary one,” she said. “It’s a scary one. Because really, a paper does bring everyone together on the same page.”