MANSFIELD – We're ready for our close-up.
The Facebook Journalism Project has officially released a short film starring Richland Source and our readers. It explores how your local online news organization has become such an integral part of the community, what our approach is to local journalism, and why a stronger membership program for Richland Source would mean a stronger Richland County.
Here's a small preview of the film:
"A newspaper is a vital force in a community. But how do you pay for it?," asks Richland Source Publisher Jay Allred. "The advertising model that newspapers lived off of for centuries is not there anymore."
Let's be clear: News at Richland Source is free to read and always will be. We will never implement a subscription program where our stories can only be accessed behind a paywall.
Instead, Richland Source recently spent three months with 16 other local publishers at the Facebook Journalism Project Local News Membership Accelerator. We worked closely with coaches and other publications to find solutions to build a different, even stronger revenue stream by working alongside our community and creating something of real value.
Our efforts caught the eye of the Facebook Journalism Project, who sent a film crew to Mansfield back in December 2018 to create this mini documentary. We involved our readers in the film through our first-ever Reader Appreciation Forum, of which footage can be seen in the film.
"Our readers are our neighbors, we see them at the grocery store, and that's a very practical reason why one of our obligations is through our reporting to surface things that might be able to mitigate and help a problem," Allred says in the film.
"It has to be about more than tote bags and coffee mugs. What they need is something really valuable from a news organization that they can get their hands around."
The film is the featured asset on a new homepage recently created by the Facebook Journalism Project. The goal of the project is working together with publishers around the world through trainings, programs, and partnerships in order to help strengthen communities by connecting people with meaningful journalism.
Through the Facebook Journalism Project, Richland Source has learned about the potential for a more sustainable revenue in terms of membership, said Engagement & Solutions Editor Brittany Schock in the film.
"Our North Star goal is building a membership program that can make our newsroom self-sustaining," Schock said.
Always at the heart of the membership program, though, is the "connective power of local journalism," according to Allred. Delivering worthwhile local news and reporting is truly a community-wide effort; it takes a dedicated staff and a loyal readership working together to make it happen.
A membership with Richland Source says you believe that supporting independent local news means a better community for all of us.
"Support of local journalism is key to the sustainability of a community," Allred said.