Yes, we’re asking for your support.
When we launched OI, we took a pledge to tell the truth without spin or bias, and that’s why right at the start of this column we’re saying that we’re asking for your support.
As we worked to bring you Ozarks Independent, our vision was to serve the Ozarks with a newspaper that would be community focused, locally oriented, without spin or bias, and free for the community. The vision was to keep our overall costs as low as possible and gain enough advertising support from the area’s business community to make unbiased, professional local news for all.
Unfortunately, being completely transparent with you, things have not lined up as well as we would have hoped they would have lined up by this point.
It’s because of this that we’re launching a Patreon crowdfunding page to keep OI serving the community. Our grand plan was to not have to sell subscriptions (and, technically, we’re still not) so that anyone reading OI would be able to learn what’s happening around them even if they couldn’t afford to pay for a subscription. With the poverty rate of Greene County and surrounding counties close to 20% or higher, we know there are a lot of our neighbors who just can’t afford to pay for a subscription to a newspaper.
That’s why we’re asking those of you who read and support OI who can afford to help us out, to consider making a monthly donation to keep OI providing our service to the community. Our statistics show that over 30,000 of you have read stories on OI over last 90 days, and our numbers are climbing every day. If even 10% of you who are reading and enjoying the work of OI were to make a basic sponsorship, we would be able to meet our budget and be able to do little things like perhaps put our name on a billboard so that word-of-mouth isn’t our only advertising and awareness method. (And, by the way, we cannot thank all of you enough for helping to spread the word. Hitting over 30,000 people on just word of mouth alone is humbling to us.)
Now, we want to make things very clear, OI is not a non-profit organization at the moment. That means your donation to help keep OI going is not currently tax deductible. Yes, we could have been vague about that and it likely would have drawn more donations, but as we’ve said all along, we don’t spin situations and we’re not starting now. We know it will likely make things more difficult going forward, and we’re OK with that.
Also, there’s no restrictions on readers to OI. We know some newspapers don’t let you read any online content without a subscription, or you only get a few free articles before it’s locked up on you, but the entire OI site and archive would remain free.
Our ultimate goal remains the same: to obtain enough business community support to have OI be free and available to the community at no cost to our readers, even through crowdfunding. When we reach the point that we have enough advertising support from local businesses to cover our financial needs, we will shut down the crowdfunding and rely solely on that business support. When will that be? We don’t know and we don’t want to venture a guess. We hope it will be sooner rather than later.
As we look at entering our 10th month of serving the community, we hope to have proven to you our commitment to the Ozarks, to providing you news and stories that you might not always see in other publications, and that you see value in what we are creating. That you believe the community is better off with OI part of it, and that you want to help us continue to be of service to our region by making a pledge to support our mission.
HOWEVER, WE’RE NOT JUST ASKING FOR READER SPONSORS THROUGH PATREON. WE’RE GIVING BUSINESS OWNERS A CHANCE TO SUPPORT UNBIASED LOCAL JOURNALISM TOO…
We have a “Business Level” where local business owners can also support the mission of OI. What you would receive as a business sponsor is shown on the Patreon page at different levels. We would also be able to customize something for your business if what you see on the Patreon page doesn’t quite fit your needs. Just contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get in touch with you to find ways we can work together to serve our community.
Oh, one more thing: we are not asking you to support us at the expense of other media outlets that you may be subscribing to or supporting. We believe in the power of local journalism and believe a community is better served when it has multiple newspaper options, multiple radio news options, and multiple TV news options. There’s no way that any of us…from KY3 or KOLR to KTTS News to OI…can cover every single story that happens in our region each day. Combined, we all provide you with a depth of our area’s coverage and information that you might not find in other places.
So when we ask you to support local journalism, we mean all local journalism, not just our lone publication and no one else. For example, pick up a copy of the student-run Drury Mirror some time and you might be surprised to learn things happening on that campus or by their students and alumni that are making our area a better place. Catch a newscast from the Dean of Local Radio Newsmen Don Louzader on KTTS or see what great story Christine Morton is breaking for KY3. Local journalism is vital to our community, and at OI we support and love it all…and hope you will do so too.
Our page is set up that if you make a pledge, it will be taken from your PayPal account or other payment method on the first of every month.
We hope you will consider joining with OI to help us continue to serve the community.