Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Easy to take for granted

LANSING, Ill. (March 25, 2024) – Sometimes I take for granted that people understand how uncommon it is that Lansing has a newspaper. We have reached a stage in our growth where residents and organizations throughout the area turn to us for information they need or coverage they want.

In March alone so far we have faced a number of big news stories that impact not only Lansing, but our entire region —

  • Thornton Township controversies continue, and voters relied on our reporting to cast their ballots on March 19.
  • The Dutch Ambassador visited our region on March 21 to learn about the Underground Railroad in Illinois.
  • At their March 13 meeting District 215 board members discussed the possible racial implications of changing the dress code policy.
  • Residents expressed concerns about the sale of the Center for Visual and Performing Arts at the March 18 Munster Town Council meeting.

Stories like this are among the 100+ we’ve published so far this month. Some are quick reports of basic info. Others require extensive research and digging. But all are important to our community in some way.

That’s why we do the work we do.

Reliable and rare

Of course, the more reliable we are, the easier it is to take us for granted! But having a community newspaper is not a given these days. It’s rare.

Of the 25 Illinois municipalities closest to Lansing, only 4 have an independent source of local news.

  • Homewood and Flossmoor are served by the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle.
  • Harvey is served by the Harvey World Herald.
  • Park Forest is served by enews Park Forest.

Of these local newspapers, only the Chronicle and The Lansing Journal publish and deliver news every single day.

The costs of connecting

Whether it’s an agenda listing decisions being made about taxpayer dollars, or a round-up of local sports that mentions student athletes by name, or a video describing the varied services a local jeweler provides, these stories are important because they connect our community.

Here’s what one of our readers told us:

A March note from a subscriber who doesn’t take us for granted (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

“Keep up the good work.” That’s exactly what we want to do.

And this reader doesn’t take that for granted — she included a check with her card.

That’s what it takes to keep a local newspaper running.

It costs money to keep reporting, publishing, and delivering local news every day. We are very frugal (perhaps too frugal?), but there are still significant costs involved in providing news for free.

That’s why we’re asking if more of you will join our team of monthly supporters today.

People who get it

Monthly supporters provide a reliable stream of revenue that frees up time to report news that matters to our community. We want to keep the news free for everyone, even for readers who aren’t able to pay anything. We are grateful for people who understand that and have stepped up to make local news possible here.

The Lansing Journal is committed to our community long-term. Having enough monthly supporters who make that same commitment is a game changer.

The number of “monthlies” has grown steadily over the past couple years, and we are now about 250 strong. That’s encouraging — especially when the crush of urgent news is overwhelming.

But that means we’ve convinced only about 7% of our subscribers to take the leap and become monthly supporters. That’s a small group to shoulder the responsibility for a growing list of readers.

What if we could double that percentage? What if 500 readers were investing even a small amount monthly in the local news they love?

Would you be one of those new supporters? Would you pitch in at, say, $15/month?

(If that price doesn’t work for you right now, or you prefer giving on your own schedule, those options are available too.)

Every dollar helps, and every new monthly supporter means the world to us.

The value of paying for free

It can be difficult to raise funds for this kind of work. When people take for granted the news they receive for free, it can be hard to show them the value of paying.

And we don’t have a visible product with a defined price. “Information” and “connection” are not tangible, though people depend on them every day.

If you’ve ever patronized a new business, enjoyed a library program, voted confidently on local matters, answered a question on Facebook, or attended a public meeting because of something you read in The Lansing Journal — would you sign up as a monthly supporter today?

What I’m afraid of

Frankly, I’m afraid of what could happen if too many readers take local news for granted. We need people to know that we need them. We need more of our subscribers to become supporters.

Already giving?

If you’re already a monthly supporter, thank you! You are already doing your part. We need more people like you who don’t take local news for granted. That’s what this editorial is about, and I didn’t want to leave you out.

Assuming the best?

For those who enjoy reading local news every morning and who assume it will automatically continue, you are the people we need. We need more of our readers to support this newspaper, either as monthly givers or with occasional gifts on your own schedule. That’s what ensures that we’ll be in your inbox each morning. Could we count on your help?


Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma
Melanie Jongsma grew up in Lansing, Illinois, and believes The Lansing Journal has an important role to play in building community through trustworthy information.