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Have you ever wondered what it costs to report a Reader story? Most people don’t, and I can’t blame them. For most, it’s free to read. But it’s not free to produce.

Let our creative services director Lynn Sanchez break it down for you and consider becoming a member today.

People probably don’t realize that our full-time staff is less than 10 people. Most of what’s in the paper and online is created by freelancers; writers, columnists, reviewers, editors, photographers, interns, graphic designers, videographers, documentarians, animators and multimedia producers.  It takes somewhere between 20 and 30 freelancers to create each issue. Not only are they doing the legwork and creating the content — jobs they’ve done for decades now — they abide by our deadlines that may or may not cause interrupted meals, late nights, possibly tears and occasional cursing. Everything is done on a shoestring.

Our freelancers have to genuinely love what they do and be dedicated to The Reader’s mission or they wouldn’t do it. Your support helps us deepen the talent pool and keep giving creative people a place to work and share useful information and entertainment with the community at large.

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In dollars and cents

A reporter can spend several days on stories; emails and phone calls go back and forth with sources and editors—not to mention attending events and doing research before a word is even written. A photographer or graphic designer produces the stunning visuals to go alongside it. There are folks who work to get it online, write newsletters, post on social media and moderate comments. 

A quick estimate for all that work? $1,517.24 for one story. And we do that hundreds of times a year.

We haven’t worked in legal fees, tech fees, rent, printing costs, or… anything other than the hours members of our newsroom worked so that most readers could get it for free—because our reporting remains freely accessible. In fact, we estimate that for every one paying reader we have, we can make reporting free for 99 more.

That’s important, because the cost of not doing this is even higher. There’s no deal on democracy. The data is clear: when local news outlets shut down, civic participation withers, community ties give way to divisive partisanship, and corporate misconduct and public corruption flourish. 

That’s why we need your help. While the cost of an article is subsidized by other revenue streams like advertising and events, the changing economy, competition from tech platforms and the impact of the pandemic means that our readers need to stand up and support the journalism they depend on to keep them safe and informed.

Reader support doesn’t just allow us to keep the lights on, it’s our most sustainable lifeline that also keeps us independent of pressure and influence from advertisers, politicians and special interests.

Isn’t independent, authoritative and in-depth reporting worth paying for?

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

John Heaston


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