It has become increasingly apparent from recent feedback that I need to more clearly inform our TSB readers about my recent decision to install a paid prescription model in 2014. The decision to ask our readers to pay for premium content was not an easy one, however, one that is critical to the sustainability, growth and improvement of TSB.
TSB has exhausted all revenue options, however, our readership continues to skyrocket. In order to improve and not become stagnant, we are turning to our readers to help sustain and grow a business that we feel is imperative to the democratic process of our community and to preserving the voice of the people.
What are the options available to our readers?
1. Read only FREE content: Much of the content on the TSB news website is still free, including the calendar of events, city and organization press release and public service announcements, videos, and some sports.
2. Monthly subscription: Pay monthly, only $5 per month, which provides access to all stories on the site.
3. Yearly subscription: Sign up for a yearly subscription before Feb. 1 for only $40 ($55 after Feb. 1.)
4. Pay per article: Pick and choose which articles to pay for at a cost of 50 cents per story.
Why is TSB asking readers to pay for premium content?
1. TSB delivers news you won’t find elsewhere. For nearly nine years, we have invested in our community, building a news organization that would focus on unbiased news — telling the real stories that make up the fabric of McKinney, Texas. Being the only news source that is owned and operated within the city affords us an ability for engagement on a daily basis.
2. We place emphasis on factual accuracy and thoroughness, realizing that our readers are thoughtful, intelligent citizens who are capable of forming their own opinions, and who want to have a city with transparent government and civic affairs. To do this, we hire trained journalists who research, vet and report.
3. Declining revenues in the industry have forced many online news organizations to charge for content. Digital news can only command 40 percent (or less) of the ad dollars that print mediums were able to demand, creating a shortage of available revenue. Without an increase in available revenue, TSB is unable to pay the staff that is critical for accurate, up to the minute news.
4. Competition from giant technology companies. The small and medium businesses in and around McKinney are typically cash poor and have begun to rely more on social media giants to do their marketing.
I have compared our cost structure, which is pennies per day, to that of the Dallas Morning News and per the graphic here, you can see the comparison. I’ve also researched other hyper-local news sites and found that many charge $30 to $40 a month.
I realize that charging for premium content is a paradigm shift and one that requires a change for our readers. For most of my lifetime, citizens paid for news in the form of newspapers and no one expected those to be delivered to our doorstep for free. When the Internet became more readily available, newspapers used it to supplement their print product. As print costs grew and subscriptions declined, more newspapers either disappeared or began to focus more on their online product. No one has truly figured out the dilemma of how to bring in enough revenue for survival. The Dallas Morning News, Washington Post, Austin American Statesman, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal are all charging for content, just to name a few. While I’m not comparing TSB’s resources with those bastions of the news industry, my point is that if the big guys can’t figure out another way, how can a local news business survive without following suit?
Our job as a community watchdog and voice of the people ensures the safety of the democratic process of our citizens. It’s a job that we take very seriously as we research, investigate, vet and report on local news. There is no other true news site that is engaged in our city on a daily basis and addresses the real issues that are taking place within our city. Our job is to tell the real stories – not be cheerleaders for the city, or for city organizations. We hold leaders accountable; we allow readers to make up their own minds based on information that we supply. We help to preserve the liberties that we as citizens hold so dear.
Owner / Publisher