In recent weeks, this newspaper company has published a survey on the pages of The Lakeville Journal and The Millerton News, and at our website at www.tricornernews.com.
We have implemented some of the changes you’ve asked for, where it is possible. We will do our best to respond to other requests.
Unfortunately, we are not in a financial position at this moment to implement some of your requests, such as doing a major upgrade of our website, though it is part of the plan.
What might or might not have been clear as you took the survey is that we are in a financial position that is untenable for the future. To continue publishing our two newspapers we need to raise approximately an additional $100,000 each year.
We are proud of our 123-year tradition of publishing essential government coverage and community news. We have managed to do so while remaining largely debt free, thanks in part to the generosity of our ownership group, who have supported our work since 1995.
For this company and many other newspapers, the founding template is no longer viable. It was designed primarily with advertising and sales of papers as its core driver, which no longer plays in our new world. The past 15 years have seen nearly 2,000 newspapers of all sizes close. Many have been bought by large newspaper chains, who take that opportunity to quash their editorial and reporting staffs.
The membership model
After months of inquiry — talking to newspaper editors across the country and many of our thoughtful, knowledgeable and generous community members — we have identified a possible new direction: A “membership model” that may provide a pathway toward the $100,000 we need.
A membership model will allow us, together with our readers, to co-create a publishing adventure of our small-town country weekly.
We have looked into becoming a federally designated nonprofit 501(c)3. It has become clear that this is not an option that will work in the short term. The IRS on average spends two years determining when media companies can be named as nonprofits; and media/publishing is not on the list of allowed recipients of 501(c)3 status, so we have to find a way to adjust our business model. We are encouraged that the Salt Lake Tribune this week was given 501(c)3 status.
The community membership model has met with some success for other publications across the country. We are now presenting it to you, our community, and asking you to join us at several levels of support, which we detail at left.
We understand that you would like to see more of your events and news releases on the pages of the newspapers.
But keep in mind that if there is no newspaper, there is no option for community members to ask for coverage of anything, including news releases about fundraisers, informative articles about governments, budgets and schools, no more obituaries that allow our readers to honor the memories of their loved ones and to notify friends of when memorial services will be held.
Newspapers are not always what we want them to be; but they do provide a service.
We hope you will feel it is worthwhile to invest in your local papers and keep them going.
Levels of contribution are suggested at left. Let us know what you think.
In return for your membership pledge, we regret that we cannot offer a tax deduction at this point. We can only promise to continue publishing our papers responsibly and to do our best to meet the community’s needs.
Janet Manko, Publisher and Editor in Chief
Cynthia Hochswender, Executive Editor, The Lakeville Journal
Whitney Joseph, Editor, The Millerton News