A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Judy Clabes: The NKyTribune is launching its year-end NewsMatch campaign and asks for your help

As you may know, The NKyTribune is a nonprofit local independent, public service news site, published by the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism — and founded by a group of experienced, professional journalists and editors who are devoted to the Northern Kentucky community.

Each year, we join other nonprofit news organizations around the country as part of the national NewsMatch campaign, fueled by a group of national funders who provide matching dollars for every individual contribution made to the NKyTribune.

The reason for focusing on individual contributions is that it emphasizes the Tribune belongs to the community. That’s why we founded it as a nonprofit and why we’ve said that we can continue to do what we do — as long as the community supports it.

You certainly support us with your readership, as that keeps growing by impressive numbers. But we need you to support us financially as well. Our personal goal is that we will have — by the end of the year — reader contributions that match the generous corporate/business sponsorships we already have.

It doesn’t have to be a big figure, and that’s the good news. If everybody who reads us chips in a little bit, that provides a very solid base — and the community is engaged. We are really looking to get MORE individual donors than ever. We hope you will be among that number. We will have matching funds from NewsMatch and from some generous local funders as well — to support our campaign through the end of January.

The Tribune has been unbelievably blessed with sponsorships from the business community from the very beginning, and we hope that it’s because we aim to provide a marketplace that was missing too — in addition to providing news for our region. We hope we have added value to the community’s quality of life. We know what the death of The Kentucky Post meant to the community — we were there too, and we loved The Post. Our aim was to bring it back, albeit online, because that’s what we could do. We’ve worked hard at it. We know we aren’t perfect and may never be, but it won’t be for lack of trying.

Seven years since founding the Trib, we have made considerable progress. We’ll keep making more. But you have had the advantage of 29,625 stories that you wouldn’t have otherwise had. (That’s up-to-date as of Sunday evening.)

And those stories included special election information you couldn’t get anywhere else, heartwarming feature stories about your neighbors no one else told, providing free obituaries and poignant special obituary stories, breaking news, coverage of your governments and your schools and our terrific nonprofits… and more. We have created partnerships around the state to bring you statewide news and Frankfort coverage you need to be an informed citizen. Anytime you have asked us, we have tried to say “YES!”

Bear with me while I play a little numbers game with you — related to our sister publication, KyForward, which unfortunately we had to shut down after 10 years. Our team founded KyForward and sustained it for 10 years, based on our belief that Kentucky needed a statewide news site. (We still believe that.) For many of those years, the majority of our team worked for free and, in fact, used our own funds to keep it going.

When we finally called it quits — mainly because the NKyTribune was just more productive and required our full attention — we had posted 43,679 stories. KyForward had good readership, but just not enough revenues. So people were reading it and loving it — but not supporting it financially.

So let’s make some assumptions about those 43,679 stories. Let’s just use one year’s worth for an average of 4,370 (rounding a bit). Let’s divide that number into three categories — (1) independently reported stories by staff that take the most time, (2) press releases that just require some rewriting, and (3) contributed content by columnists, etc, (some of this takes more editing than you think).

Now, regardless of where the stories come from, an editor of some sort has to be involved — because they actually have to be read, formatted for publication, checked for facts and for style, and then scheduled on the site.

So, let’s say the (1) reported stories (1/3 of 4,370 stories is 1456) take the most time to write (sometimes days of interviews and research) and then add the editing — for an actual cost. Figuring a reporter at $25 an hour for about $250 a story and then, figuring a copyeditor’s time at the minimum at $10 per story (this is low, honestly, but assuming the editor spends 30 minutes on the story). That’s $260 for 1456 — totaling $378,560.

Then let’s say the (2) press releases/rewrites don’t take so much time — let’s say 3/4 of an hour tops. $15 then for 1456 press releases to get ready to publish. $21,840 total.

Then let’s say the (3) contributed content has to be edited and formatted and appropriate art needs to be added. A bit more time involved in pulling it together. Let’s allow $25 for 1456 stories. $36,400 total

That makes the grand total for one year’s worth of gathering up the stories, editing to ready them for publishing, and then actually publishing them to be $436,800. Minimum.

So those who want to read those great stories and enjoy them need to know they don’t come free. Somebody does the work to make them happen.

Forgive my impatience here. The point being that somebody has to do that work — it doesn’t do itself. So all those who expect to send those press releases on a regular basis and just expect us to keep doing them time and time again — and don’t support us, actually expect somebody else to pay for their service.

These costs don’t include keeping the lights on and the utility bills paid, and books kept and the technology humming. And all the other things that it takes to keep a business going, even if it is a public service done by people who have their heart and soul in it.

The bottom line on KyForward is — we just couldn’t keep it up.

Going toward the seven-year birthday for the NKyTribune, already with nearly 30,000 stories under our belt, I’ll let you do your own figuring.

We provide the content to our readers for free — and it will always be free as long as I’m still standing. But now we both know it isn’t “free” to do, just with very basic costs.

Could we do better, yes. We have the knowledge and talent and experience to keep doing better. Help us do that.

Please support us as much as you can — and ask your friends and neighbors to do the same. Whatever you do will be matched — and we can promise that we’ll put the funds to very good use.

Click the image provided here if you want to contribute online or make sustaining monthly donations. If you want to mail a check, please address it to NKyTribune, 644 Braddock Court, Edgewood, Ky. 41017.

Thank you.

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