by David Tyler
Since Eagle News launched its Enhanced Support campaign the day before Thanksgiving, I’ve had an opportunity to talk with dozens of readers about our efforts. A number of questions come up over and over regarding what we are trying to accomplish.
Why doesn’t Eagle just charge an annual subscription rate, like it did until 2012?
For the past seven years, our business model has been based almost entirely on a strong foundation of local advertising support. Despite increased competition in the advertising arena, going forward we will continue to rely on advertising for the majority of our revenue. To ensure Eagle continues to offer our advertising clients a critical mass of subscribers, we felt we needed to make any subscription fee voluntary.
We also learned from the experiences of other publications in the market. In the past few years, two local weekly publications attempted to go from a free model to a paid subscription model. These publications were unable to generate enough paid subscriptions to be viable, and they quickly went out of business. Our intent is to survive – and thrive – on advertising revenues supplemented by the support of our generous readers. We also feel that we provide a valuable service to the communities we serve, and don’t want an inability to pay to stand in the way of a reader learning critical information about their community.
What do you plan to do with the money you generate from this campaign?
It isn’t glamorous, but the money generated from our readership will help us offset continued increases in the cost of the Three Ps – printing, postage and people. Starting with tariffs on newsprint a couple of years ago, paper costs rose steeply and have now leveled off at a rate much higher than pre-2017 levels. Postal rates continue to increase and will increase again in January. Personnel costs, including health care, increase each year. Our hope is that this campaign will not only allow us to cover these cost increases but will also allow us to expand our local news coverage.
Are you going to keep asking your readers for money?
It is not our intention to have our hand out perpetually. Similar to local public radio and television affiliates, we do plan to have an extended Enhanced Support campaign the last five weeks of each year, and an abbreviated campaign at some other point during the year, most likely in late spring or early summer.
When a reader’s subscription expires, we will send them a renewal notice with a contribution request. Anyone who makes a contribution will have their three-year subscription reset to the date of their contribution, so they won’t receive a renewal notice throughout the year.
Is this your last-ditch attempt to stay in business?
Not at all. We are reaching out to our readers for support before it is too late – not after the die has been cast. Undoubtedly, it is a difficult time for local newspapers. However, with this initiative and some other services and revenue sources we are exploring, we expect that Eagle News will continue covering local news and events long into the future.
How much does it cost to send me a newspaper?
On average, it costs us just under 50 cents a week to print a newspaper and send it to a subscriber. The cost of gathering and curating the news costs a little bit more than 50 cents a week per subscriber, so the total cost of a newspaper, per subscriber, is a little over a dollar.
How is the campaign going?
We’re off to a great start! My sincerest thanks go to the many people who have already made the decision to support local journalism by sending in a contribution. It’s been tremendously gratifying to speak with so many people who cherish our newspapers and want us to succeed.
If you haven’t yet made a contribution, please consider doing so by sending us a check along with the form available on each week in the newspaper, or by going to eaglenewsonline.com and clicking the Subscribe/Contribute tab at the top and following the directions.
And if you have any further questions regarding our campaign, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].
David Tyler is the publisher of the Eagle News.