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The Journalism You Depend On Also Depends On You

by | Nov 13, 2017 11:29pm
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Posted to: Analysis, Business, Social Enterprises, Media Matters, Member Drive, Opinion

We have been so focused this year on covering the state budget deadlock, and what it means for Connecticut’s taxpayers, that we fell behind a bit and missed a few of our much-needed quarterly fundraisers.

Hear me out.

Being a small, independent news publisher means keeping up with the latest developments in the news cycle in addition to trying to manage your business in a quickly changing economic landscape.

CHION WOLF PHOTO Here’s what we know from the front lines of the news industry. There continues to be downward pressure on advertising rates, and with that comes downward pressure on employment. Money that once supported journalism is moving to social media platforms and Google, and it’s not trickling through to the publishers who populate those platforms with quality news content.

It’s a recipe for disaster and the symptoms of this are visible everywhere if you know where to look. The Washington Post and New York Times are setting the standard for digital revenue growth, but many other legacy major news organizations — from small to medium to large — are struggling. We’ve even seen some of the larger digital outfits — such as DNAInfo — fail as well in recent weeks.

Did DNAInfo fail because digital doesn’t work? Definitely not. Rather, it was because DNAInfo apparently existed as a money-losing enterprise for a wealthy individual. The site never had a good business model, and its failure should serve as an omen. In the age of information, no publisher can be overly dependent on a single funding source.

This is where you come in as a regular reader of our site. There is simply no substitute for direct, democratized reader support of professional journalism.

Other digital news organizations, like CTNewsJunkie and many members of the LION Publishers, have developed digital business models that work for both for-profits and nonprofits, and we are persevering. There’s a lot to be excited about with respect to the growing number of sustainable, locally owned digital news organizations across the country. And LION is now starting to see a number of small newspaper companies applying for membership in an effort to find a way forward. The group now has more than 180 member publishers in 42 states, and the organization’s annual conference in Chicago last month drew more than 200 people from all over the country and even as far away as Sweden.

Regardless, the industry remains in transition. Suffice to say that legacy newsroom jobs nationwide are down from about 55,000 at their peak to perhaps around 30,000 today. It’s grim in many ways.

That said, we are working to be part of the solution and have been trying to help our legacy news colleagues since we started in 2005. CTNewsJunkie has always also been a wire service covering Connecticut politics and public policy, and we’ve got room for more newspaper clients.

If you subscribe to a Connecticut newspaper that doesn’t have state capitol coverage — or if they don’t have any coverage of our congressional delegates — give them a call and put them in touch with us. They can keep you informed by buying access to our wire service and using our coverage in their pages each day. By doing so your local paper might start to rebuild their own reader base as well.

Want some numbers? In the last 30 days we’ve produced 133 news items and original op-eds, including 42 news items from Washington in our DC News Junkie email newsletter. (Subscribe here if you haven’t yet).

Years ago, I would have told you that “entrepreneurial journalism” was an oxymoron. But it’s been the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I believe running a small business on top of reporting, photographing, marketing, and managing a website has actually made me a better reporter — one who not only understands what’s happening at the capitol, but why it’s important.

This year, behind the scenes, we’ve been working hard at getting a mobile responsive version of our site off the ground — it’s likely to arrive this week or early next. We’ve also been experimenting for two years now with a new app, Vote.CTNewsJunkie.com, in an effort to get voters more information about their candidates for office before they head to the polls.

The latter is an effort to provide a public service on very limited resources. That is what we do. Every penny we get is invested back into the site or used to keep the lights on and to help sustain news coverage and information delivery.

The value of what we produce on a daily basis is hard to quantify, but if we have made your life easier, made you laugh, or helped explain what members of the Connecticut General Assembly are thinking — then please consider becoming a paid subscriber.

Whether it’s Melissa Ozols’ Morning Coffee & Politics emails, my latest Tweet about what’s happening at the state Capitol, or Peter Urban’s coverage from Washington, you can help us continue our mission. We have subscription plans at a variety of price points for your convenience — from $5-$15 per month or $2-$4 per week, or annual plans. One of them should work, so that in turn we can work for you.

Thank you in advance for your support. And as always, thanks for reading CTNewsJunkie.com!

—Christine Stuart, Editor in Chief

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