Back in October, I faced a terrible decision with this newspaper: Keep going like we were and go bankrupt, or stop and try something else. The latter was my choice, and it meant laying off all of our employees, refunding all of our prepaid subscriptions, and refunding our advertisers. It meant losing customers and losing momentum on what had become the best newspaper in our city.
We were like the runner starting a marathon with a sprint. While it felt good to be out in front for a mile or two, it was ultimately not sustainable. I was investing too much of my own time and money to the detriment of my family and my career.
We crashed, and we crashed hard.
I still believe that our city of 100,000-plus residents deserves more when it comes to news coverage. Without adequate coverage, so many stories go untold, rumors go unaddressed, falsehoods go without fact checks and government actions go without scrutiny.
I’m a Marine. I don’t give up easily. I don’t retreat. I’ve chosen to fight in a different direction.
One thing I learned from this is that the model of having advertisers pay the lion’s share of what it costs to produce and print the news is problematic and difficult for me to manage. I’m not a salesman. I just want to write news. I want to see our community get the coverage it deserves.
What I did see that was encouraging was that we had so many people who were willing to support us with paid subscriptions. A fair number of you paid us and didn’t want us to deliver a physical newspaper. Many of you paid more than the minimum as a way of supporting us.
Since a news outlet is ultimately responsible to the public, it’s this public support that we are most interested in.
So, here’s the plan:
We’re still here and covering Lewisville news and events. We have fewer staff hours than before, and we weren’t perfect at our peak, so we’ll be spread thin. I’m personally going to put in fewer hours than before.
We are forming a nonprofit organization under which to operate The Lewisville Texan Journal through memberships and donations. It will operate similarly to other nonprofit news entities like PBS, KERA and The Texas Tribune.
We will continue to produce a printed newspaper each week on Wednesdays. It’s not going to be as beautiful or as big as it was at our peak. Our focus is to be online first. The newspaper will be a recap of what was online. It is available for free at our office and will be at a few select locations in town. We’ll print it in-house to save money. Members can choose to have us mail it to them.
Whatever donations we receive each month, that will be our budget. Our coverage level will depend on how much our readers value what we deliver. With paid staff, freelancers and volunteers, we will find out and tell the stories of our city.
If you’ve read The Lewisville Texan Journal for any period of time, you know what we’re capable of. I’m asking you for a few things:
First, stick with us and make sure your friends and family in the area know about The Lewisville Texan Journal. Keep sending us story tips and information, and letting us know what you’d like to see covered.
Second, we’re looking for seed money. If you would like to make a donation to give us a boost while we get back up to speed, we’d appreciate it. You can send a check made out to The Lewisville Texan Journal, 1720 S. Edmonds Ln., Suite 10; Lewisville, TX 75067, or you can donate online here.
Third, once we have the nonprofit running, we are going to ask readers to become sustaining members. I’m not yet sure what that looks like, or what the mechanics will be. It’s probably not going to use PayPal. We hope you’ll join.
Lastly, I’ll be looking for some Lewisville Texans to form an advisory board to help guide our coverage and keep us on track financially.
I love this city and believe it deserves the best, so I’m not giving up. I hope you see it the same way.