By JOE PINCHOT and JUDI SWOGGER, publishers of NEWS On the Green
Sure, it’s a cliché to say it but, in looking back over NEWS On the Green’s first year, we can only say, “Wow.”
We started with nothing on Oct. 1, 2017, and got our first print edition out on Nov. 3, 2017. Journalists just love impossible deadlines.
In that month, we created PS Pinchot Swogger Publishing LLC, shopped for equipment, notebooks and the other things we thought we would need, researched how to run a business and started an online presence through Facebook to build awareness and anticipation.
Once our web site www.newsonthegreen.com was built, we used that as our news hub, but still rely on social media for promotion.
We went from wondering how we would fill 12 pages of a newspaper to having to decide what to keep out, because there is always more news than we can fit. We went from all-night design sessions the night before publication to having everything done early.
The reader response has been tremendous. Our experiment in hyper-local journalism was embraced by people who weren’t so worried about what was going on in Warren or Youngstown or Sharon or Hermitage – they wanted to know what was happening in Brookfield, Masury and Yankee Lake.
Sure, we’re not perfect. There are only two of us, and we still have kids to raise, a house to run, parents to see and lives to live outside of journalism.
Having said that, NEWS On the Green has become larger than a full-time job. We’re running to evening and weekend events when we’d rather sleep in or our kids would rather find a basketball court on which to play. We were not social media devotees, and the demands of babysitting Facebook, in particular, can zap an entire day if we put out a controversial story or one that draws a lot of attention. Social media is the way the world is headed but, for us, it’s a colossal headache.
Now, for the money talk. Despite the reader response, the financial response has been slight. We’ve had advertisers that jumped on early and have committed to us, a subscription list that grows slowly each month and occasional donations, but it’s not enough to live on.
In our year, we’ve had expenses of $20,754, which includes capital investment costs, and have collected $19,200 in income, which includes freelance projects not associated with NEWS On the Green. We have paid ourselves only $4,800 in salary. As you can see, no one can live on that.
We want to continue NEWS On the Green. We want your voice to be heard in the community, and we want you to know what your local government, schools, kids, businesses and everyday residents are doing.
We can’t continue as we are without your help.
So, what are our options?
We can try for more freelance jobs, but that takes away from NEWS On the Green. We could seek outside employment, but that would take away from NEWS On the Green. We could raise advertiser fees, but that makes it harder for advertisers to stay with us. Many advertisers simply want to support us. They’re not getting busloads of new customers and clients because they advertise in a 2,500-circulation newspaper. For many advertisers, we don’t fit within their marketing scheme, so they pass us by.
NEWS On the Green is free because we want anyone who wants the news to have the news. The difficulty in paying for a newspaper is one reason newspapers in general are losing subscribers. Should we start charging for NEWS On the Green?
The lack of a cost to buy NEWS On the Green is particularly a problem online. In our year, we have sold one ad on our web site. Yet, we pay each month to have a web site, and it takes time to post new items. In this day and age when people want things online, they tend to want it for free. As a content provider, where is our incentive to continue an online presence? It’s just as expensive to collect the news, write it, edit it and design it for on-line dissemination as for a print product.
We want to continue with NEWS On the Green. In 30 years in journalism, the nuts and bolts of newsgathering means more to us now than ever, and the chance to contribute to the community we live in is a strong motivator. But, we need that community’s help. We need our readers’ help. If NEWS On the Green is a service worth having, the community has to pay for it. Advertise with us, subscribe to us, sponsor us or simply help support us with a donation. We need it all to continue as your local news service. For details on how to do that, see the home page of our web site, www.newsonthegreen.com
Thank you and we hope in another year that we will be able to say that year two was even better than year one.