Courier continues to evolve in transformative year
by Peter Weinberger | firstname.lastname@example.org
Sometimes it’s important to stop and take a breath when assessing how a company is meeting its goals and challenges. That’s especially true for a nonprofit trying to make a difference in Claremont.
On the surface for the Claremont COURIER, the good news is many things are also staying the same. The print edition continues to be delivered on Friday, the website is updated almost every day to stay on top of breaking news, our popular email newsletter is sent Thursday nights, each month we have a special edition inserted in the newspaper, and we continue our presence on social media, focusing on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter (although we will evaluate if Twitter is still worthwhile as Elon Musk sinks the platform).
On the outside, it does seem like business as usual for the COURIER. On the inside, I will be telling our unique story of change and challenges in our effort to stay far ahead of the local news grim reaper. But as a nonprofit, our connection with Claremont continues to grow in other ways.
Nonprofit Claremont Courier Inc.
In any given week starting in June 2022, COURIER content reached an average of 35,600 readers/users. That number has grown to just over 11,000 since 2021. This increase can be attributed to upgrades and initiatives we have implemented over the past year.
With all these new eyes, we can offer any business, group, individual, organization or nonprofit the reach to effectively promote and market themselves. The geography has also grown online to not only Claremont, but the surrounding communities of La Verne, Upland, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Ontario, and Pomona.
Our mission to help nonprofits focuses on donating advertising space to help them raise money. For over a year now, we have been matching advertising buys for nonprofits. This amounts to thousands of dollars they can use in other areas … like giving! This year the COURIER also made small cash donations to local nonprofits.
The COURIER continues to reach out to our schools and partner with organizations like the Claremont High School Interact Club, where we split revenue from subscription sales generated by students. If a class needs 50 papers to study current events, just ask us and we will deliver.
From a news standpoint, we work with dozens of groups (including schools) every month to help promote meetings, events, charities and more. We resurrected our weekly calendar after pausing it during the pandemic for this very reason. By publishing dozens of news briefs (Our Towns) every month, it helps others reach out at no cost. This is a direct result of donations because a reporter must write or rewrite this information.
My point is the COURIER is a nonprofit, in business to partner with other nonprofits. Please contact me if you have any ideas!
None of our initiatives would be a reality if it wasn’t for the hard work of the entire COURIER staff. Almost every week we deal with a flow of information that is greater than what we can publish. That’s why the staff wears several hats. It’s based on the needs of readers and customers.
Because the website has no size issues like print, more content appears online. Will you miss an important story in print because of space? No. But the website does allow us to publish longer versions of stories (and obits), added news briefs and calendar information, timely sports and news coverage, or stories and photos from outside Claremont’s city limits. The website has become an entity of its own. And print newspaper readers notice the difference.
The staff’s impact comes down to this. If Mary Rose did not continue to sell advertising, if Tom Smith was unavailable to deliver our paper at dozens of locations, including missed Friday deliveries due to post office delays, or Skylar Anderson was unable to produce not only the print edition, but the email newsletter and social media posts, the COURIER would not be the same. And that does not include staff members Steven and Grace, Dee, Kami, Andrew, Gyna, Betsy, and Matt.
The person who has made a huge difference in the quality of content published, posted, and recorded, is our editor Mick Rhodes. Mick seems to do everything. One of those things is editor and king of COURIER content. He contributes in so many ways, from editing to posting, podcasting, managing, writing, and reporting, on occasion he seems like a blur. But we know he’s around.
He does this while raising a family and chasing a music career (I’m not worried, we pay more.) My point is the COURIER is a place where it’s possible to contribute to the greater good. And Mick certainly has done that.
Changes/initiatives in 2022
- Advertising prices did not increase and will continue to remain the same.
- Greater emphasis on the calendar and Our Towns to help promote city organizations, businesses, and nonprofits.
- Continued our watchdog role. The latest was our three-part series on Montclair’s homeless outreach team by Mick Rhodes.
- More in-depth election coverage to blunt misinformation.
- Hired a new editor this summer.
- Installed a new phone system saving time and money.
- Submitted grant request for new education reporter. Decision in December.
- New local cartoon that accompanies our local crossword puzzle.
- Upgraded Apple computer system to help in many areas of production and communication.
- Changed to QuickBooks accounting software to set up email billing.
- New direct MLS feed. Helps make the COURIER a hub for local real estate and supports Claremont realtors. Also includes objective real estate news and information.
- Built a local business directory. Supports small business owners to get found on the internet.
- Upgraded our payment pages to pay for anything from advertising, obituaries, donations, and subscriptions.
- Built a podcast hub to review and listen to COURIER podcasts.
- Finally, we made our most important decision as a local news company. We have elected to keep our website open to the public. There are no paywalls. The COURIER is not going to let local news become history. We help avoid this by keeping access open to everyone. Regardless whether you can afford a subscription or donation.
Moving forward the COURIER will move to a phase where we use tools in place to better serve our readers and bring even higher quality coverage. No rebuilding a website, or tackling infrastructure needs like accounting software, computer systems, website operation, or even a new phone system. This will also help control expenses as the price of publishing continues to increase every year.
We also want to make everyone aware the COURIER is in business to help other businesses, including nonprofits. As a nonprofit, we intend to give back to our community. We have more plans to accomplish this in 2023.
As the year comes to a close, like most nonprofits, we are appealing to our readers and local communities to consider donating so we can continue to serve. What’s been most impressive is we haven’t done any major fundraising this year but receive donations from our readers each week, many by adding extra money when renewing their subscriptions. We also have heard from our generous Publisher Circle members who already have sent in 2022 donations.
As you can see by the numbers, these donation efforts have bridged the gap between a red and black budget. In 2022, we project around $80,000 in donations for the year. This literally has put the COURIER in the black. We aren’t kidding when we say we can’t live without you!
I know I’m speaking for the entire staff in thanking you for helping us during a time where objective local news is disappearing. If we continue to work together, the COURIER’s future is bright.