Imagining a new reader relationship

Source Media's Digital Services Manager, David Yoder participates in a group discussion with Engagement Editor, Brittany Schock at the Facebook Membership Accelerator in 2019.

We start today with gratitude.

As I write this, the Source Media family of news websites count 948 Ohioans as active, paying members. Our members come from all over the region and many different backgrounds. They have unique belief systems and range widely in their politics.

They have one thing in common, though, and that is their understanding -- their belief -- that an independent, locally-owned newsroom is crucial to the health of a community.

To each one of our members, thank you.

Your paid memberships help us keep paywalls down and make crucial reporting available to all. Your financial support helps pay our journalists. Your demand that local journalism be better than what cable television serves up motivates us to excel. Your deep commitment to your community shows up in every conference call, webinar, survey, or live event we do.

Think about it. If you’re reading this column with no paywall, accessed freely from any device anywhere in the world ... thank a Richland Source member. They made that happen for you.

If you are not a member yet, I hope you will join us this December in our race to 1,200 members. It's an audacious goal that would more than double our best month of membership growth. We think we can make it ... with your help.

Throughout December, our team will make our very best case for individual and corporate support for journalism at Richland Source.

Next week, we’ll publish our 2020 Annual Report, the only such public accounting of local reporting in the region.

Later, we’ll share with you a vision for local news that’s collaborative and rooted in community.

Finally, we’ll lay out exactly how your financial support impacts the reporting we do.

We’re being this transparent with you because the future of local journalism has to be different from its past. Local news has to tell the whole story, not just that of the one side or another. Journalism has to be done with people instead of to them whenever possible. Reporters have to stand beside their readers, not apart from them.

And readers -- yes, readers -- have to see the value provided by a credible, trustworthy newsroom and say, “I’m willing to pay to support this work.”

If 2020 has taught us anything at all, it is how easy it is to rip apart the social fabric of a community. Each crisis pulls at it. Each half-truth or misunderstanding makes a small cut. The delicate threads spun from trust weaken and break. Before long, we find ourselves in tatters.

Communities become less and less engaged. Our personal narratives slant and bend and it’s harder for us to succeed together.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

Great independent local journalism weaves and repairs the social fabric of communities. Quality reporting guides individuals and institutions toward better decisions. Trusted staff convene residents for important conversations. Transparent leadership holds itself accountable.

That’s the way forward, friends. We hope you’ll join us and help Mansfield and Richland County take the next big step toward the future of journalism.

Supporter and Pillar memberships start at only $9.99 a month and are 20% off through December when you use the code "1200" at checkout.

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