From the Publisher’s Desk: True confessions about the lousy job I do

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Teresa Wippel bestFor the past five years, I have been able to wake up each day and say, without reservation, that I love my job. I’m able to write about the community where I’ve lived for 30 years, where neighbors and friends kept a watchful eye as my kids grew up and celebrated their transition into successful, caring adults, in a place that has a small-town feel next to big-city amenities.

But there are those who feel I do a lousy job in some key areas, and I’m going to confess that I agree.

1) I am lousy at self-promotion. I don’t brag enough about the myriad ways we contribute to our community — through free advertising for non-profits, educational partnerships with schools, never-ending unpaid publicity for good causes. I also don’t talk about the recognition and awards that we have received over the years, including: personal recognition as the Edmonds Daybreakers Rotary Club Business Professional of the Year in 2013; organizational recognition through the Washington Journalism Education Association, the United States Soccer League, and the Columbia Journalism Review. Read more about all of this on our About Page.

2) I suck at telling people that I run a business that has significant monthly expenses. I pay writers and photographers for assignments. I pay for someone to sell advertising. I pay for web hosting and development. I pay for bookkeeping. I pay to sublet studio space for our video work. I recently celebrated paying off my new video camera (not an insignificant expense) and it has become a huge asset in covering our community. This is not hobby. It’s a business. I work many hours every day to balance the time it takes to cover our community and find the resources to cover our costs.

3) I fail big time at reminding people of what’s at stake: The future of journalism = financial sustainability.  We can talk all we want — and I have, in my ivory tower, idealistic way — about how journalism serves as the cornerstone of our democracy. But the truth is, journalism is also a business. It has to make money to pay staff and cover expenses. And journalism is at a crossroads. Newspapers used to make A LOT of money. Craigslist took away classified ad revenue and the Internet in general took away many other monopolies that news organizations used to have as revenue generators. Newspapers nationwide are closing and if they aren’t, they are shrinking in size. Reporters are being laid off. Online-only publications like this one often fill the void but can they do so long term? The answer is, no — not without making money so they can pay reporters and photographers a living wage. I am blessed to have many freelance contributors who do fabulous work, but I can’t pay any of them a living wage.

4) I am a loser at asking people to put a dollar value on what we do. Do you subscribe to My Edmonds News — as in, do you sign up for a voluntary monthly donation via credit card or put an occasional check in the mail? If you don’t, you are in good company. Most of the 5,000 or so unique visitors we get to our site each day do not. All of us — me included! — are used to getting news online for free. It shows up in our Facebook or Twitter feed. It’s free, right? Wrong. See numbers 2 and 3 above.

Let me close by saying how much I value all the ways that people in our community support what we do, from our wonderful advertisers to our loyal subscribers. Your support is appreciated in more ways than I can ever put into words.

And finally, have you subscribed yet?

— Teresa Wippel, Publisher

 

 

13 Replies to “From the Publisher’s Desk: True confessions about the lousy job I do”

  1. Teresa: Have you considered a paywall of some sort, or financial support/grants from philanthropists/corporations?

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    1. Thanks, Brian — as someone who is “in the business,” I appreciate your perspective. I’m always looking at solutions and have explored these ideas as well. Not ready at this point to install a paywall as most small news organizations are not finding those successful. As for foundations, you have to be a 501 (c) 3 and if you become dependent on grants, what happens when the grant money dries up. One big disadvantage to being an online only publication too is that state law doesn’t allow us to publish legal/public notices like many print newspapers still do — and earn thousands of dollars in revenue from.

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  2. I appreciate and understand this business quite well. One of my best friends works for a well known national, long time newspaper and has been in the business for over 40 years. And I am well aware how the business has changed, particularily in regards to sources that are now online (including non professional people that have popped up all over, and many print news papers ready to fold) in an instant. As with our politicians these days, most of us don’t want to find more and more entities with financial conflicts of interest.

    I believe the Beacon not that long ago mentioned in one of the back pages something about having more financial support, and I think that was in regards to other newspapers doing that with business………The Washington Post is now owned by Jeff Bezos who owns Amazon. A lot of people do not like to see the mix of big business with news reporting as there can obviously be conflicts of interest. ……Likewise with government entities. that are representing the people that elected them.

    Has My Edmonds News received any monetary payments from our government here in Edmonds, the City of Edmonds or any officials?…….

    I always like to see that the news I am reading is as much as possible free of conflicts of interest so news can be reported with no bias.

    Teresa, I appreciate all the work you do with this newspaper and apparently the Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood news. Do you have a story on the history of how this all unfolded and how you got going with this not that long ago. I believe I read last year that you worked for Seattle Public Schools also?. Wow, what a work load!…..Would be interested in your history as I follow this type of thing, journalism.

    A story on the history of how you started all of this would be wonderful, and again, I appreciate this news source and the articles about our town, people, animals, photographs, etc. Thank you, Teresa…..

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  3. I think a ‘Real Estate For Sale’ section of the paper would be helpful for folks who are looking to buy/sale property in the Edmonds area. Since each transaction would be high value, significant advertising cost would be justified.

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  4. Teresa is not asking for advice, she is seeking the monetary support of her readers through subscriptions. I’ve done the math: $10 a month = $.33 cents a day! An amazing value for the up-to-date news I get daily at my fingertips! I spend more on a coffee drink on a daily basis. LISTEN UP!!!! Subscribe, subscribe, subscribe!!! Enough said!

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  5. Thank you for laying it all out like this, Teresa! I just subscribed and really appreciate your work and this publication.

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  6. I “subscribed” months ago. I am amazing that so few people are willing to part with a few dollars a month for the incredible service Teresa and her staff provide. What she is doing represents the future of journalism. She needs our support. If you donate to public television each year then you understand the value of “quality.” Please, my Edmonds neighbors,” pledge $5 or $10 a month to help ensure this valuable resource does not go away but only gets better!

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  7. I enjoy My Edmonds News, but after having identity stolen, I don’t do anything financial on the computer–do not want that nightmare again! So, I mail payments in. Anyone uncomfortable with computer payments can do the same. I would miss this NEWS. I read it daily along with 2 newspapers–while they are still around.

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