Click to play an audio version of this article —
by Melanie Jongsma, Publisher
LANSING, Ill. (May 26, 2021) – Pizza and soft drinks in hand, we sat around my living room Monday evening — six Lansing Journal reporters and me. It was the first time in about 17 months that we had met together in person. In fact, for a few of us in the room, it was the first time meeting at all.
A lot has changed over the past year, including three new writers who have joined The Lansing Journal’s mission of providing balanced, reliable, community-building news. Jim Masters applied when we advertised Lansing’s need for a dedicated reporter to cover school district news. Noah Johnson applied for the same job, and we decided we couldn’t afford to pass him up. Quinton Arthur writes for the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle, and I met him during their Zoom version of a “pop-up newsroom.”
Noah wasn’t able to be at our Monday meeting, but Jim and Quinton were. They got to meet Katie Arvia, Ernst Lamothe, Jennifer Yos, Josh Bootsma, and myself. (Other members of the team weren’t able to attend.) As you can imagine might happen in a room full of reporters, we spent much of the night asking each other questions. It was good to learn each other’s family situation, work experience, and personal history with Lansing and the surrounding region.
I’m telling you about this meeting because I want you to know that these people are your reporters. They are part of this community, and they want The Lansing Journal to be the best newspaper it can be.
When you see Jim Masters’ byline on an article, I want you to know that he grew up in Lansing and attended school in Districts 171 and 215. He worked for the Times for many years — until they began shrinking and cutting. Now he’s bringing his life experience and professional experience to The Lansing Journal.
When you see Quinton Arthur’s byline, I want you to know him as a person as well as a journalist. He lives in Cal City, he’s getting married soon, he likes the color purple, he has a photography business. Quinton is a good listener, and that’s probably a big part of what makes him a good reporter.
All of the reporters listed on our Writing Team page are real people with real connections to this community. It’s hard to capture that in the short bios we list on that page, so I hope you’ll also occasionally click on their names and view their portfolio of reporting. Each article represents hours of asking questions, attending meetings, making phone calls, verifying facts, and wordsmithing that information into a meaningful story. They do that for you, and they take pride in their work.
Having this group of reporters in one room gave me an opportunity to show them the large “Encouragement File” I keep. It started out as a manila file folder, but a few months ago I transferred the contents into one of those expanding accordion files. This file contains all the handwritten notes, cards, and letters I’ve received from people like you. “Keep up your amazing work!” they write. Or, “You are making a positive impact.” Or, “We are so proud of The Lansing Journal newspaper.” Some of the names I know; many I don’t. But each message is a reminder that The Lansing Journal is your newspaper, and you take pride in it.
Whether you’ve lived in Lansing all your life or just moved here a few weeks ago, The Lansing Journal belongs to you. We report community news you can’t get anywhere else.
Whether you are more comfortable speaking Spanish or English, The Lansing Journal belongs to you. We work to understand the stories that are important to you, so we can relay them in a way that builds community.
Whatever your political leanings, your religious affiliation, your gender or age — The Lansing Journal belongs to you. We want to hear your voices and offer ways to connect you with each other and the broader community.
This is your newspaper. It is not an opinion piece, an advice column, a Facebook share, or a marketing newsletter. It is balanced, factual, local information researched and written by professional journalists who are invested in this community. This is your newspaper, our newspaper. It belongs to all of us together.
It belongs to all of us, and it depends on all of us to keep it going. We don’t charge a subscription price for The Lansing Journal because we believe it’s so important for everyone to have equal access to the information we publish. But this free newspaper costs about $10,000/month to produce.
What does that $10,000 cover?
- The stipends we pay our journalists for all the articles they write
- Web hosting on a stable server, so articles can be accessed quickly and reliably
- Daily email delivery that brings local news right into subscriber inboxes
- Various technology tools that allow us to edit photos, lay out pages, prevent spam comments, and run an efficient site
- A few office supplies and business cards
- Mundane expenses like insurance, license renewals, and credit card processing fees
Really, $10,000/month is a shoestring budget for a newspaper of this quality. It’s amazing what we accomplish for that amount.
And it’s a reachable goal. Think of this: If every subscriber receiving our Daily News email signed up as a monthly supporter at just $5.00, our current level of expenses would be covered, and we’d have some room for growth.
I know many of you are not able to give even that small amount. Believe me, I understand. If that’s you, then take a pass on this request.
And I know a few dozen of you are already giving monthly — thank you for that. Your investment in your local paper, has helped get us this far. If you’re at a point where you can round up your monthly gift by a few dollars, please consider that.
Some of you make occasional gifts, on your own schedule. I am grateful for those surprises that show up in The Lansing Journal PO Box, or as random online gifts. I don’t always know what triggers those gifts, but I am grateful for each one, and I hope they don’t stop. But if you’ve ever considered becoming a monthly supporter, now is a good time because our new online giving form is so much easier to use than the previous one.
But the largest group of people on this list are people who have never given at all, probably because you are simply unaware of the work and expense that go into this free newspaper. Or maybe you don’t remember the days when Lansing didn’t have a newspaper, and the larger media didn’t bother to tell our community’s stories.
We don’t want to go back to those days. Please don’t take The Lansing Journal for granted.
If your situation allows, please sign up as a supporter today.
If you have any questions about The Lansing Journal’s expenses or budget or ideas for the future, please feel free to reach out to me directly. This is your newspaper, and I’m happy to discuss it with you!
Thank you for helping to build this community by supporting this community newspaper,