From the Publisher’s Desk: Can you help me keep my New Year’s Resolution?

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Dear Readers:

We are about to start 2018, and for me personally, that means the start of nine years covering Edmonds via My Edmonds News.

For local news organizations like ours, the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is often a slower time. I have had the luxury of reviewing the past year, as well as beginning to gear up for the year ahead.

As such, I feel I owe it to our readers to be very honest about where we stand.

The economy as a whole in the Puget Sound region is strong. Unemployment is very low. The real estate market is crazy, as anyone who has bought or sold a home recently can attest.

The news business continues to tread water, however, and we are no exception.

Part of the problem, in my mind, is the juxtaposition of those two words — news + business. “For profit” journalism — and in our case I use that term very loosely — is in its current state precisely because it is funded mostly by advertising.

I must add, for the record, that I can’t thank our current advertisers enough. They provide the majority of our revenue stream.

However, we don’t have enough advertisers to keep us in business.

In doing research last year, I came across a couple of telling statistics:

  • Only 19 percent of small businesses advertise — anywhere.
  • Facebook and Google ALONE bring in more revenue from advertising than all U.S. newspapers combined.

That tells me that expecting journalism to survive on advertising dollars alone is not just unrealistic — it’s a death sentence.

How have journalism organizations responded to this changing market? There has been downsizing — staffs are smaller, layoffs are prevalent, and even the size of the publications themselves have shrunk. For online publications, many have introduced some level of “paywall” — in the case of The Herald in Everett or The Seattle Times, you read 10 articles and don’t get any more unless you subscribe. Or in the case of the Edmonds Beacon, you can’t read the archives unless you subscribe.

We don’t have any type of paywall and I don’t intend to introduce one. You can sign up for our daily email newsletter (sent out at 4 a.m., seven days a week) for free. You can access our website for free. But I have said to others on more than one occasion (not entirely in jest!) that I should charge people to comment — as the vast majority of our most frequent commenters don’t support us financially.

I often get asked: What does that financial support look like? We have about 300 people who give to us regularly in some form. Some support us with a monthly voluntary online subscription, averaging $10 a month. Others mail us a one-time check of $50, $100 or as much as $500.

For transparency, we use the terms donation (one-time) and subscription (recurring) interchangeably because the only difference is how they are defined in our online system. We are not a non-profit, so we can’t give you a tax deduction. But we do NEED your support.

When you consider that we average 6,500 unique visitors A DAY on My Edmonds News, a $10-per-month donation from 1,000 readers would give us the cushion we need to meet our monthly expenses.  We value quality journalism, so we pay our regular contributors. These include our freelance writers and editors and photographers; our graphic designers and marketing support; our technical support people, and our web hosting. Not to mention the thousands of dollars we give BACK to our community each year through donations to local non-profits and other good causes.

One final thought to consider. As a result of the economic pressures facing the news business, many communities now find themselves with one newspaper instead of two or three.

But some communities have NO newspapers or online news at all.

For those who may wonder why I own neighboring online publications in Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood (MLTnews and Lynnwood Today), it may surprise you to learn that those communities have no print publications, since the demise of the weekly Enterprise newspapers. They are essentially “news deserts” in a thriving metropolitan area.

After I started My Edmonds News, the publishers of those already-existing websites in Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood came to me separately and asked if I would be interested in taking them over (in 2012, in the case of MLTnews and in 2013 in the case of Lynnwood Today). At first I said no. Then I realized the brutal reality: If I did not, those communities would have no one covering their city government, their public safety their schools  — celebrating accomplishments and chronicling challenges — on a daily basis.

Because that is what journalism is about. And it’s why I come back to the juxtaposition of the words “news” and “business.” A free press is indeed a cornerstone of our democratic way of life. It shouldn’t be tied to a business model.

My resolution for 2018 is to educate our readers that a truly FREE press is supported by our community as a whole. Not just by advertising dollars. But by those of you reading to the end of this column. Yes, you.

Will you support us? It’s easy. And it matters. You can do it HERE.

Wishing you all the best in 2018.

Teresa Wippel, Publisher

 

 

15 Replies to “From the Publisher’s Desk: Can you help me keep my New Year’s Resolution?”

  1. It would be a great loss if My Edmonds News were not to survive. At the very least, those who post often should get behind the service the this paper provides of not just news, but a valuable public forum. I subscribe, and I urge others to do so. I have also made a one-time donation; if there is any confusion as to how to do so, click on the Me Edmonds News logo, above, and it will take you to a PayPal linked site. Let’s give Teresa and My Edmonds News a Christmas/New Year’s present – they’ve earned it!

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  2. I am grateful for the local news coverage that keeps me in touch with all facets of local happenings. Arts, entertainment, business, politics, and restaurant reviews all add to the richness of life here in Edmonds and we are fortunate to have a dedicated journalist such as Teresa who provides us with that vital connection to our community. She expressed the needs of her organization very well in today’s letter to readers.

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  3. I am shocked to learn that many of the most frequent commenters do not support My Edmonds News. Perhaps you SHOULD charge for postings over a certain number.
    We won’t realize how important a free press is until we don’t have it any more!
    $10 monthly is less than some people spend on coffee daily. Start the New Year right and support Teresa’s hard, and very important, work.

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  4. Teresa,

    Please share with us an address that one could send a check to … to help support MyEN (better acronym than MEN) 🙂

    Thx,

    -Donald

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  5. Thanks for the reminder Teresa, I just sent in my annual contribution for My Edmonds News. I enjoy reading what is happening in Edmonds during my winter months spent in California. I would still suggest that in the “comments” section you have a “thumbs up” or “like” feature. It would really add to the interest of reading these comments. Many times I would like to say “yes I agree” with a commenter, it would really feel good to let the commenter know, and I do believe, commenters enjoy the support. I know, I suggest this EVERY year, maybe 2018 will be the year! Happy New Year Teresa, we appreciate what you do.

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      1. This is such a well-written article! I will increase my monthly support. And I’m not sure, but it appears I can only successfully “like” one comment on each page. When I tried to like 2 of them, the first “like” cancelled. Maybe I am missing something.

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        1. Hi Denise — I was able to post a few likes without any of them disappearing. If anyone else has this problem, please let me know.

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  6. I am also pleased to report that I just activated a new feature for liking comments. There is not an option in our current system for disliking them though.

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  7. 6,500 hits a day and only 300 subscribers is a telling statistic. I understand that there are those who are just barely getting by, but in Edmonds they are a minority. MY EDMONDS NEWS is a treasure and those of us who rely on it should be contributing to its success and growth. When I moved here 20 years ago, Edmonds was an information desert. Now we have a daily news source that covers local news including a wide range of cultural, charitable, and leisure activities in the community. It’s time for more of those who read My Edmonds News to join those of us who support it. Ten bucks a month is not a big hit.

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  8. I like your additions Teresa. I totally agree with Jim on what a void you have filled. Respectful disagreement is encouraged. Any mistakes are quickly corrected. I hope 2018 will see more people supporting you financially.
    I remember an old song appropriate for your situation : FREEDOM ISN’T FREE
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

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  9. I feel I must add my voice to those of other supporters! I looked over a couple of previous issues and noted the wealth of information we receive in this wonderful paper. Here are a few things I really appreciate:
    1. Beautiful photography and nature news about our lovely part of the world.
    2. Positive news about the activities and accomplishments of our young people.
    3. Fantastic columns full of interesting and pertinent information.
    4. Updates on current events about which we are all curious…(where are those sirens going? and what about Top Pot?)
    5. Local politics and the opportunity to get involved.
    6. Upcoming events and activities and the fun things happening here. How else would I know?

    All this and more is offered daily, conveniently delivered to my desktop, to be enjoyed as an essential part of my morning. Teresa, you are wonderful and you deserve and need our support! Click the box, everyone who is reading this, and subscribe! We need this paper.

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