From the Publisher’s Desk: Are you supporting local news — or letting ‘others’ do so?

Many of you won’t read this.

You are tired of my “sales pitch” for support.

You are too busy to set up a recurring subscription.

You figure — like so many of us do when it comes to financially supporting a local business — that “others” will do it and you don’t need to.

But what happens when that business is gone?

I just returned from four days in Chicago, where I attended a national conference for local independent online news publishers.

And I am fired up.

About the work we do. About why — in the ongoing national “swirl” of events outside our control — local news matters to our community.

And about the need to ensure I have a sustainable news operation so that we are here, for our readers, for years to come.

Every single day (Sunday-Saturday), I respond to reader requests for information and do my best to get answers. I moderate comments to ensure they are complying with our policies. I show up to events — or arrange for others to be there — to make sure we are able to cover our community as completely as possible.

And almost every day, I troubleshoot technology problems for our readers, from those who accidentally unsubscribe from our newsletter and want it back, to those who are traveling overseas and can’t get the news they need (more on that in a moment).

And yet, the vast majority of those who appreciate our coverage, who ask for our help, who comment on our website do NOT support us financially.

When I was in Chicago, I met publishers who actually turned off access to the website for a day when their fundraising goals weren’t met. It was a stark reminder to their readers about what happens when the news they’ve come to depend on goes away.

I also met publishers who had to “move on” to a different project because they weren’t able to sustain their work.

Asking for money to supplement the support we receive from our wonderful advertisers is not something I do lightly. In fact, I’d rather not do it at all.

But it’s the way of the world in the news business today. You see such appeals at The Seattle Times and the New York Times. I was particularly struck by the wording of this appeal, from UK-based The Guardian, which popped up after I read an online article:

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help.

If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps to support it, our future would be much more secure.

So there you have it. We don’t have paywalls either. We don’t meter the number of articles you read and charge you after 10, like many local news organizations do.

But we need your help.

And speaking of the UK, we received this question recently from a reader, and wanted to let you know, that if you are traveling and can’t access us, it’s because we are often targeted by hackers and have to block certain countries. See our story on that here.

But we have good news. Our security person has actually come up with a workaround that I am happy to share — so if you have travel plans in your future, email me.

You are welcome.

And have you subscribed yet?

Until next time.

Teresa Wippel, Publisher



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