A couple of years ago, it seemed like an excellent opportunity that was too good to pass up. It was the perfect chance for a new online news and information start-up to overshadow an old fashioned and sleepy service that had proven popular across City Island in previous years, but subscriptions had apparently become stagnant and therefore virtually abandoned by publishing old news, only ten times a year and not offering updates online.
All across the United States, many websites seek readers by covering real time news and information content. In theory that makes a lot of sense, partly because it’s not just the locals who want to read about their area, but businesses, family and friends as well.
City Island Images has never been a blog. Its a local, national and international online daily free service covering news and information content in real time 24/7.
The following are views about what makes a sustainable online news organization. Since City Island Images firmly believes that competition is the best method to improve news and information services for our growing reader base, here’s some advice for any new start-ups searching for actual sustainability.
1) One does not necessarily have to take a vow of poverty, but there is probably not much money.
2) Find the structure and blend of funding sources that works best. Grants and events may work in one place, and events and advertising in another.
3) Thinking about just journalism, then think and think again. Business skills are vital. It’s not just about writing the cool stories, it’s about keeping the books straight.
4) Make sure the publication fills a gap that’s important to many other people, not just something that interests to a few.
5) When applying for funding from national grant-making organizations, don’t just ask them to pay for local news. Show they’ll be funding work that other publications can draw upon to improve their own coverage or operations.
6) Always operate within your means. Don’t hire people or spend based on money you expect.
7) Constantly promote your publication and explain its value to the community it serves.
It’s unlikely any publication can get by with only one kind of funding.
8) Be careful of limiting yourself when setting a fee or price for advertising, or subscriptions. If you ask people for a set amount, that’s all they’re going to give you.
9) Donations are few and far between when folks become accustomed to gain access to the service for free. But what many don't actually realize is that they will miss, if they don't support it and when it's gone!
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