by Melanie Jongsma, Managing Editor
LANSING, Ill. (January 24, 2020) – This January I set some goals for The Lansing Journal. The over-arching goal is for this community newspaper to become financially sustainable. The smaller goals upholding the over-arching goal are to increase the number of subscribers and supporters who invest time and money in local news.
Members of The Lansing Journal’s writing team have taken on additional responsibilities this month in order to give me time to focus on raising the funds and the friends we need. They are good people, and I am grateful for their investment in this vision.
January is also my birthday month, and I have been using that as an opportunity to increase support for The Lansing Journal. Those of you who are on Facebook might be familiar with Facebook’s “Birthday Fundraiser” initiatives—inspired by that, I started my own Birthday Fundraiser on behalf of The Lansing Journal. Here’s a summary of the partial success of that effort:
- I’ll be turning 53 this month, so my original goal was 53 monthly supporters at $3/month.
- That would provide The Lansing Journal $159/month, which is enough to cover web hosting, email delivery, and PayPal services, plus at least one article a month.
- At this point, a day away from my actual birthday, I am nowhere near my goal of 53 supporters. I’m at a little more than half that number.
- But many of those supporters signed up for more than $3/month, so in terms of dollar amounts, the goal has been surpassed.
- I’m really grateful for that! Thank you!
- At the same time, I feel a little bad that I haven’t been able to find 53 people who love The Lansing Journal enough to chip in $3/month. You see, I understand that it’s healthier for The Lansing Journal to be “owned” by a lot of people contributing a little, than a few people contributing a lot.
- I want people to be proud to say, “I live in a small town, but it has its own newspaper. That’s MY newspaper. I pay for it. I help keep it going.”
Now, I know that people would rather be reading local news than reading about my fundraising and friend-raising efforts. And really, I would rather be writing. I like going out and meeting people and asking questions and doing follow-up research and then sitting at my computer and wordsmithing it all into an article that provides clarity, or creates conversation, or makes a connection. I’m a writer. I’d rather be writing.
But I also know that if I don’t tend to the business side of things, The Lansing Journal will disappear, and those writing opportunities will disappear with it—not only for me, but for the whole team of journalists who contribute their craft to this community newspaper.
So I’ll set aside my own preferences in order to do the things that need doing. I will keep asking for support—until we reach 53 monthly supporters, or until January is over. And I will keep hoping there are enough people in this community who understand the value of community news and are willing to support it.
Your financial support allows us to post news daily, distribute it digitally and in print, and pay our big-hearted reporters a small stipend:
Your email subscription counts as a vote of confidence in this newspaper. And by increasing our digital circulation, we can (1) attract more digital advertisers, and (2) qualify for business help from an organization that specializes in community newspapers. At the moment, we are too small for them to help. I’d like to grow to 5,000 email subscribers and then approach them again.
Thank you for understanding that there is a business side of community news. And thank you for whatever you can do to keep The Lansing Journal in business!