Revenue shortage puts Bridgeland News on hiatus.

Website to stay up while attempts to regroup are made.

Ok, so it was a long shot to expect a miraculous response to moving our news publication from print to online only. We did get 1,000 folk to subscribe to our weekly email newsletter, but we could only attract $1,500 of advertising to cover a $6,000+ budget. Obviously, this is going to take a bit more time and work, or a new economy, or a new model. Unfortunately, there’s no money to buy that time right now and Bridgeland News is going to have to take a break and regroup. Call it a hiatus in order to determine if resources and interest can be found to have Bridgeland resurfaced. Or maybe even re-papered.

Until then, the website will stay up so archives can be browsed. Myself and few other volunteers will try to add content from time to time, but the site will be like the Stone Arch Bridge—more of a nostalgic place than a structure that’s still used for commercial traffic.

Though having only 1,000 folk in the 23,000 households we mailed the last paper to join us online was sobering and humbling, we aren’t completely discouraged. This really needed to be a six-month campaign with a marketing budget. Actually, getting a thousand people to pay any attention to you at all in the summer is not too bad, and a few people are still signing up every day. Also, the Facebook page gathered nearly 200 friends.

But it is certainly a sign of the times of how challenging it is to compete for the attention and support of a readership besieged with information from every angle. I can’t imagine a community news source isn’t still relevant and valued by this community, though.

But clearly, the current model where all the revenue is provided by advertisers (and publisher) is not a sustainable model. And I think that’s a good thing. A community news publication is one of those public infrastructure assets that would be better sustained if all the stakeholders provided some amount of, well, stake. I’m thinking a news cooperative would be an interesting concept to explore.

Regardless, the tragic part of suspending our operation is having to let go of our incredibly talented and dedicated staff. I think the team of publisher Becky Clawson, editor Jeremy Stratton, and sales manager Cindy Collins (and newspaper designer, Holle Brian) did an amazing job in providing this community an extraordinary publication. We will miss them, dearly. The list of writers who provided content for a bit of love and pittance are also in our hearts.

Thanks also to the nonprofit Southeast Publications board of directors who contracted with my business, Triangle Park Creative, to produce their paper 15 years ago. They provided the mission, and their invaluable time and guidance to ensure you received an authentic public service. And to those who contributed to the inner-fold, you also made our work seem important.

We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to all of the businesses that provided the hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to fund the various publications. There are a few that I think have been in every issue – some are even still on the website (Seward Co-op and River Reality).

So, enjoy the summer. We’ll check in with you from time to time, and perhaps we can get something going again in the fall. In the meantime, if you can still encourage your friends and neighbors to subscribe online, that would be great.

last revised: May 21, 2010