Inside LINK: Good journalism isn’t free

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 regular column from our CEO, Lacy Starling. If you have questions you’d like Lacy to answer, email her at [email protected].

Today, everyone in the NKY Metro is receiving LINK’s primary election guide at a price of $40,000.

That’s what it cost LINK to design, print and mail the election guide to every household in Northern Kentucky – all 165,000 of them.

By far, that’s the single largest expense we will incur this year outside payroll, and we’re going to do it again in the fall.

Why would we spend all this money on a print edition? Because Northern Kentuckians deserve comprehensive information about the candidates on the ballot in the primary and the general election.

Covering NKY isn’t cheap

Running Northern Kentucky’s largest newsroom (by a mile) costs over $1 million per year. This year, it will be closer to $2 million because we’ve added more reporters and editors, and our coverage of the state-wide elections.

We have three ways we pay for all this. Advertising and sponsorships are the biggest part of our budget, subscriptions to the print edition make up a small fraction of revenue, and then there’s donations to the NKY Community Journalism Fund.

That’s where you come in.

We need your help to keep covering NKY

We’re asking our readers who find our work valuable to consider donating to the NKY Community Journalism Fund in order to support our public-interest journalism. Our goal this year, to pay for our regular reporting and election coverage, is to raise $400,000.

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Donations don’t have to be big. We have plenty of folks who donate $50 a year or $5 a month, or whatever amount they can afford. Those small donations add up quickly, and also show us that the community supports what we’re doing.

(And of course, we have generous community donors, like St. Elizabeth and Central Bank, who chipped in to help offset the costs of this print edition.)

You’ll be paying for what’s important to you

When I donate my hard-earned dollars, I want to be sure that they are being spent wisely. Donations to the NKY Community Journalism Fund are tightly controlled, and can only be spent to support certain things.

Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky is our fiscal sponsor, and they hold all donations to the NKY Community Journalism Fund. We have to write grants asking for specific dollar amounts, for specific projects or salaries, and we are subject to an annual audit to make sure we spent the money on what we said we would.

We can’t use funds to pay for rent, or executive salaries, or coffee in the $20 Mr. Coffee machine in the office. (We can’t buy a new coffee machine with that money, either.) We also can’t use those funds to pay for sports, arts or entertainment coverage. We can only use it for covering topics like education, government, business, healthcare and housing.

We are creating sustainable news coverage

When the Kentucky Post shut down in 2007, NKY lost its dedicated news source, and as a community, we felt it. Coverage of our metro fell off quickly, eventually leaving us with a few digital outlets that covered specific parts of the three counties, but no organization telling the story of our whole region.

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LINK is here to fix that, and our mission is to make sure that Northern Kentucky always has a newspaper covering us. Your donations help us secure our future, and the future of news in NKY.

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