A new way forward for local journalism
I will get to the important stuff in a second. But let me just start by saying how uncomfortable I am by having my photo spread across your screen.
For the past four years, I have done almost everything to avoid such an occurrence. In an age when many members of the media are rewarded for behaving more like celebrities than journalists, I have chosen to take a different path. I have chosen to make this site about you.
Call me old-fashioned, if you must, but from my perspective, a journalist is at their best when his or her lens is pointed in the opposite direction — when the focus of a story is about something greater than oneself.
That is the simple philosophy in which I have managed Med City Beat.
We provide in-depth coverage of city council meetings, report on the openings of small businesses, and highlight the contributions of innovators, artists, and area nonprofits. It is not because we have to and, frankly, in most situations, it is not because we are financially rewarded to do so. Instead, it is because we believe in this community.
I will be the first to admit that we have not always been perfect. After all, I am human (as evidenced by the aforementioned photo). But I can proudly say that since this site launched in 2014, we have published hundreds of fact-based articles on issues of public interest; worked with dozens of high school and college students; promoted scores of community events; and helped elevate the level of civic discourse through debates and forums.
Doing this has not always been easy — but it has been worth it.
Whether it is something as critical as educating our readers on a candidate’s position before they head to the polls, or something a bit more fun, like letting them know about an upcoming concert or a restaurant about to open, I continue to see first-hand the value of the work we do.
Now, as I look to the future, I see an opportunity to build off the momentum of these past few years. I see a chance to not only improve our reporting, but also to strengthen our relationship with readers.
It is no secret that the news industry is in a difficult position. Declines in subscriptions and ad revenue have led to layoffs across the country. That, in turn, has led to less reporting on issues that matter most.
At the same time, the amount of corporate content making its way into our news feeds has skyrocketed. The ratio between public relations professionals to journalists is now 6 to 1, double what it was a decade ago.
The difference between the two professions is not as simple as ‘good versus bad.’ Instead, it’s about where their loyalties lie. Public relations is about protecting a reputation. Journalism is about seeking the truth.
We have been fortunate in recent years to partner with a number of local businesses of high integrity. We will continue to work with these trusted partners, all the while building a new model of grassroots journalism.
Why? Because we know that to scale our operation beyond where it is today would require us to make concessions that we have previously not had to make. It would require us to become bigger sell-outs than Maroon 5.
To me, that is not an option. So, that is why I am turning to you — because I know that local journalism is strongest when readers pay for the ink.
This week, Med City Beat is unveiling a new membership program, one that will allow us to deliver more of the quality news coverage you have come to count on. It will also give readers a greater say in how we use this site.
The goal is simple: we want to create a better model of local journalism. (And I use “we” because it really has become a team effort, thanks to the ongoing contributions of Bryan Lund, William Forsman, among others).
So, rather than leave you with some powerful sales pitch or try to entice you with a gimmick, I will just say this: If you feel inclined to support the work you see on Med City Beat, you can do so by signing up for just $8 per month.
For some, that may be out of reach. But if you are in a position to support our work, do so knowing that your contributions will help ensure we are able to keep our reporting free and accessible to the entire community.
Thank you in advance for your time, support, and trust.