Steve Southwell
Steve Southwell

You haven’t seen my name on many story bylines lately. As I sit to write this today, I am suffering from the same massive case of writer’s block I’ve had for months.  Maybe it’s the health issues that have dogged me this year, or the burnout and stress of my full time day job, or the fact that money seems to be a constant issue. It just doesn’t seem fun to write much anymore.

Last October, finances led to us shutting down the press-printed edition of The Lewisville Texan Journal, ending our two-year attempt at creating a commercially viable newspaper. Within a couple of weeks, donors had stepped up to get us going again as a nonprofit.

But that process was not smooth. I’ll spare you the long and ridiculous story, but papers we thought had been filed to form our 501(c)(3) were not filed as we were told. We discovered this right around the time we came to realize that we were going to face a big decrease in financial support.

We have been very thrifty in running the LTJ, but when you face a large deficit, it doesn’t take long to get in a tight spot.  We increased the appeals for donations, but that was ultimately not successful in closing the gap. I’ve put in so much of my own money and time to this, but I’m no longer able to sustain it.

We have now come to a second point of reckoning, and the conclusion is that we are not viable as a nonprofit at this time.

Perhaps in more capable hands, or with someone who has more time, or a cultivated list of wealthy and philanthropic friends, it could find success.  But I think I’ve given it all I can muster at this stage.

The Lewisville Texan Journal is winding down its operations, and will cease regular publication by the end of the month. We will unfortunately have to let our managing editor, Leopold Knopp, go.

I want to thank all of the community members who believed in us and supported us over the years with their story tips, subscriptions, donations and advertisements.  We could not have gotten as far without you, and I just wish we had more like you. You understood the importance of our mission, and why an informed community is a better community.

I wish we had been able to keep it going for you.

We believe in and support the Lewisville community, and have always strived to make it a better place by keeping our citizens informed. We are proud of having been able to make a difference.

As we end out the year, we’ll work on wrapping up stories of importance to our city.

In the coming days, I’ll be turning off all of our donors’ monthly recurring donations.  

My intent is to keep the website and Facebook page alive for the time being.  I don’t have long range plans, and don’t want to make any hasty decisions, but what I do know is that I need a few months off from this.

I know that in some way, I’ll be back next year to find new avenues to serve my community.  Maybe I’ll blog. Maybe I’ll write satire. Maybe I’ll focus on just the stories that other news outlets are not covering. Maybe I’ll just work a lot of overtime and try to pay off some of the debt we have incurred on this.

You might have some questions.  Here are some answers:

Q. Will the police scanner and blotter stay online?

A. Yes, these services will remain online for the foreseeable future.

Q. What about LTJ’s stories and archives?

A. Our current website and our archives of stories will stay online for the foreseeable future.

Q. What about LTJ’s Facebook and Twitter?

A. We’ll stay online with our social media accounts.  Look for us to share and retweet items of interest to the community.  We’ll probably share stories from outlets that were previously our competitors.

Q. Will you still accept donations?

A. Yes, but any donations received from this point forward would be used to pay the salary of our managing editor through the end of the year. Any excess would be used to reimburse the publisher for several thousand dollars of expenses.

Unless we had someone willing to step forward with a commitment of about $35,000 a year or more, it wouldn’t be enough to get started again.

Q. What if you just did _______ to raise money?

A. Over the past year, we’ve had plenty of ideas, but very little time and energy to develop them. We have tried out several ideas that have not been successful.  At this time, I just need some time away from it. Maybe we’ll come back later and try something else, but it’s hard to focus on producing the news while also figuring out how to pay for it. It’s worth noting that most newspapers have two staffs. One deals with editorial, while the other deals with advertising or funding.  Either of those are plenty for a team to handle, but it didn’t work out having one person worry about both.

Q. Can you sell advertising?

A. Nope.  Been there, done that.  I’m not a salesperson, and have not had any luck at hiring any.  Selling is a beatdown, and the advertising media market is beyond saturated. Not only that, but advertisers prefer to invest in publications that don’t rock the boat.  Print advertising used to carry somewhat decent rates, but the cost of printing exceeded the cost of writers, and we couldn’t earn enough to pay for printing, much less the writers.  Online advertising is so cheap that publishers like us who target a very narrow audience don’t earn enough each month to do much more than cover a day or two of a writer’s salary.

Q. Will you sell the paper to someone else?

A. The Lewisville Texan Journal is owned by Lewisville Public Media Corporation, a nonprofit entity.  We’d be open to letting someone else come in and try to resurrect it, but only if they can bring forward a plan to serve the community and keep it funded.

If you never read our piece about when we stopped printing on the big press last year, read it.  It holds true still:

The Lewisville Texan Journal prints its last newspaper

1 COMMENT

  1. I’m really sad to hear this – I’ve enjoyed reading the paper online and in print. Best of luck to the staff of the LTJ.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here