Inside LINK: No paywalls here

Lacy Starling
Lacy Starling
Lacy is the president and CEO of LINK nky. Email her at [email protected]

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Inside LINK is a weekly column from our CEO, Lacy Starling. If you have questions you’d like Lacy to answer, email her at [email protected].

Last week in this space, I dove into how we pay for our reporting – the unique blend of advertising sales, sponsorships and donations to the NKY Community Journalism Fund that help us pay for the largest news organization in NKY.

This week, I want to talk about how we DON’T pay for it.

When we set up LINK, one of our focuses was how to bring the news to EVERYONE, regardless of their access to technology or their ability to pay. For that reason, we started our bi-monthly print edition (to reach those who don’t have access to, or comfort with, technology) and we decided to make our site free.

A lot of news sites have what are referred to as “paywalls.” Paywalls are just what they sound like – a wall between readers and the content that you have to pay to get past. Most sites require a monthly subscription to get past the paywall, sometimes as much as $15 a month. Some sites put everything behind the paywall, and others will have some free content or give you so many free articles a month (but that requires that you allow them to put tracking cookies on your computer, something we won’t do.)

I understand why newsrooms do this – running a news organization is not cheap. Reporters and editors need to be paid, and overheads aren’t getting any lower. However, for many of the major media outlets that are publicly owned – like Gannett, the owner of USA Today and the Cincinnati Enquirer – they also have shareholders to pay.

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The money you pay to get past the paywall doesn’t just pay for local news coverage. It also has to fund corporate operations, support the company’s profits and pay dividends to shareholders.

At LINK, we made a different choice. Rather than caring about profitability for shareholders, we are solely focused on creating a sustainable news organization for NKY. Yes, we need to cover our operational expenses, and if we happen to turn a profit (which it looks like we might this year), we’ll reinvest all that money into expanding our reporting coverage, but we have the freedom to make decisions that are good for the community, not just for us.

Because of that, we decided at the beginning to not put our news behind a paywall. NKY has been starved of news coverage for so long that it seemed cruel to show up and immediately put a digital wall between our coverage and the people who deserve it.

I want to be clear, though. Starting next month, you will see a popup on our site asking for your support. This is NOT a paywall. Even if you never give us a penny, you’ll still be able to access all the news, information, entertainment and sports coverage you love. That pop-up is simply an ask – we’d love it, if you find value in our work, if you would donate to the NKY Community Journalism fund.

Those donations, of which we already have some from a beta test of the pop-up from early June, help keep our news team humming, and keep the news free for everyone else in the community who might not be able to spare the money right now.

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So, read on without fear of running out of free articles or clicking on a juicy headline just to run smack into a paywall. We’re here for you, NKY, and we want you to read everything we publish.

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