When small towns lose their local newspaper, those communities lose more than just their newspaper. They lose a critical piece of democracy.
More than 1,800 communities large and small have lost their independent newspaper since 2000. Social scientists have linked those loses to decreased voter information and participation, increased corruption and the loss of local customer base for small businesses who rely on local customers.
The founder and former publisher of The Corrales Comment, Jeff Radford, ensured that the village paper delivered the best local coverage to your mailbox and Corrales Road news boxes twice a month, without delay or defect. When he passed along ownership earlier this summer to Pat Davis and 87048 publishing, the Comment was supported by more than 1,000 subscribers (that’s almost one-in-three households in the village).
To expand readership even further, Davis announced that The Comment will add additional issues and launch a new “pay what you can” subscription model for new subscribers. Under the model, The Comment will expand from 24 issues (2-per-month) to 26 issues a year (every other week). Current subscribers will receive the extra issues at no additional cost.
Future subscribers will have the option to “choose their price” going forward. The suggested base subscription price, $36 per year, equals $3 per month or about $1.50 per issue plus 2 free issues for annual subscribers.
“That’s not much to a lot of folks, but those dollars add up to what it takes to pay good journalists and cover the rising costs of printing and delivery,” says Davis. “But for those who find that a little too much in their budget, we are opening a “name your price” option on our online checkout form,” explains Davis. “Subscribers can select reduced or free subscriptions – all on the honor system – to ensure that everyone has access to high quality local news about the place where they live and work.”
For those who can afford it, a new subscriber option also allows readers to gift a subscription to someone else or donate above their subscription price to subsidize low-income subscriptions and new subscriptions for educators and students at Corrales Elementary beginning this fall. The Comment will also make one of its regular news boxes free for pickup for those who need that option.
“Good journalists deserve to be paid well for good work, but all those good stories aren’t worth much if people can’t access them to know when to attend the council meeting or turn up for a big weekend show at the gallery down the road” says Davis. The Comment also recently increased its rate for contributing writers and will begin providing all of its website content free online at corralescomment.com and on social media. The Comment is also adding a new weekly email-only issue, called Local 87048, to provide coverage of stories between print issues as well as feature weekly picks of top rated things to do around the village.
“This is a grand experiment in community-supported journalism,” says Davis. “Given how much Corrales loves The Comment, I’m betting these new strategies will help us teach other communities how to save their local papers and increase civic participation.”
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