These are certainly interesting times to be working in newspapers.
For more than a decade, since the internet became ubiquitous, an avalanche of free online content has slowed the demand for a hard copy of the day’s news and upended the newspaper business model that once depended on subscriptions, and the advertisers who wanted access to those subscribers, to maintain itself. In even more recent years, the credibility of journalists at large has come under attack at the same time as newsrooms across the country are shrinking under pressure from profit-driven corporate ownership.
Thankfully, the Flathead Beacon has managed to stay strong despite the challenging and changing landscape. The Beacon’s content has always been free — both in print and online — and the Beacon remains fiercely independent, as it has for the last 11 years, to the point that we are now the largest independent newspaper in Montana.
But while all that is great, and nothing about the content we provide or its availability is changing, it does not mean we plan on sitting still. It’s quite the opposite, in fact, and with our future in mind we launched the Flathead Beacon Editor’s Club last week, a membership program similar to those now in place at publications as varied as the San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and Slate.
Our pitch is pretty simple and straightforward: For as little as $5 per month, we’re asking those who support independent journalism and value in-depth coverage of local issues to chip in and financially support our mission. And if that’s not enough reason to join, we’ve tossed in quite a few perks, too, including:
• Great discount coupons from our local business partners.
• Access to www.beaconeditorsclub.com, a members-only website that includes bonus content like a podcast diving into our biggest story of the week, a preview of what we’re working on for next week, and local recommendations from our staff.
• A Glacier National Park poster designed by our in-house staff and a mail subscription to Flathead Living magazine (at annual pricing tiers only).
If you sign up this month, your first reward is a free beer at Kalispell Brewing Company, and your first podcast is an interview with Beacon Assistant Managing Editor Myers Reece, digging into his reporting on the tumultuous last few months for Kalispell Regional Healthcare.
What’s more, the Editor’s Club was given its name because it is just that: A club of like-minded people who want more from the local media because they understand the connection between an informed community and a thriving one. As the Editor’s Club matures, we will hold members-only get-togethers where members can interact with the Beacon staff, including our management and ownership, and we’ll be actively soliciting feedback from members on how we can make the Beacon even better. Membership in the club entitles you to closer access to not just the news that matters to you but also the people who cover and write those stories.
So if any of that sounds interesting to you, please consider joining us at www.beaconeditorsclub.com today, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. We’re adding members all the time and would love to have you as part of that family.
And, I guess, if that’s not enough, don’t forget about the free beer.
Staff writer Andy Viano manages the Beacon Editor’s Club’s content and coordinates with its members