For 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. 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 MLTnews — 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 1,500 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