Free obituaries to come, name-your-own-price subscriptions, merchandise and more
Good afternoon, frequent Times readers and those who are just stopping by:
As a community news publication, we have vowed to you that we’ll remain transparent and keep you informed about what’s going on with us. I wanted to provide an update on how things are going for the Times, what we’re working on and what you can look for in the not-too-distant future.
We’re about to enter our sixth week of publishing — it’s gone by in a blink, but it also feels like we’ve been around for so much longer than that!
We had some further issues with our website that were beyond our control last weekend, but we’ve now found a reliable host in another small business in Lawrence, and we are extremely happy with the speeds and consistency that we’re seeing. We sincerely apologize to anyone who encountered our site when it was down, but we’re really excited about how well it’s running now.
My personal (and perhaps somewhat selfish) goal as reporter/founder of the Times is to make it financially sound enough that I can focus more of my time and energy back onto the reporting that we really want to do — digging deeper and looking into the big questions that we have, and that some of our curious readers have sent our way.
But I also want to make sure we’re giving our readers what they want and need, and that we’re allocating our limited resources well. Please don’t ever hesitate to reach out to the Times via email at hello (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com, or to me directly at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com, and we’ll get back to you ASAP.
Without further ado, here’s the latest from the Times:
• As soon as we can find a way to manage submissions, we would like to start publishing submitted obituaries for free.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one and tried to publish an obituary, you may have seen the prices that bigger publications charge. We believe it is abhorrent to ask people who are grieving and very likely already dealing with financial issues to pay hundreds of dollars to commemorate their loved one.
We don’t have a print product, but we can help spread the word so that hopefully, mourners can avoid one more well-meaning but painful question from someone asking how their loved one is doing, and having to relive the sadness to explain once again.
We’ll let you know as soon as we find a way to make this happen, and we would welcome suggestions from web folks who might have suggestions for reliable ways that we can make that process move efficiently. (We have found that asking for help makes it far easier for us to make things happen, so we wanted to put a feeler out before we jump into a temporary solution that may or may not work in the long term.) We just hope that we can bring at least a tiny bit of comfort to community members who desperately need it.
(ICYMI: We also launched a Community Resources section.)
• By popular demand, we’re launching a name-your-own-price option for our voluntary subscriptions.
As our regular readers probably know by now, we are trying to do everything we can to operate the Times, pay staff members and occasional freelance writers and photographers, and keep access open for those who can’t afford to pay for crucial news and information.
We launched our voluntary subscriptions four weeks ago, allowing readers who appreciate what we’re doing and believe in our mission to help sustain us with a $7.85-per-month individual “support” subscription, or $14 a month for a “solidarity” subscription, meant to help us grow while also supporting access for a neighbor or community member who can’t pay.
It’s going really well so far, but — to be fully transparent — we need to grow a lot more financially before we can grow our staff or pursue some of the big things we want to do.
We have heard from some people who want to make easy, automatic, monthly payments to the Times above and beyond our support and solidarity subscription prices, and we will not hesitate to take people up on their kind offers. If you’d like to support the Times for either of our monthly prices or set your own price, we would welcome and sincerely appreciate your help. Please sign up here.
Remember, your dollars are staying right here in Lawrence (especially now that we’ve switched web hosts). Your money is feeding the people (and pets) you’ve come to know at the Times, and we appreciate it so much.
One other perk: If we can sustain the Times without having to require paid subscriptions, that means neither you nor anybody else has to worry about logging in to read our stories. You won’t hit a paywall even when you are logged in but the system glitches, or log in and then get bounced back to the homepage from the month-old article that you wanted to read and now will have to find all over again, or turn on incognito mode, or ask someone to copy and paste full articles into Facebook comments … you just get to read. As many paragraphs, and as many times, as you want to. And you get to see all the photos and charts and documents and videos … and we really want to keep it that way.
Q: Why not allow folks to pick a price lower than $7.85 a month? Good question. We’re looking into it, but we’re afraid that the transaction fees we or the subscriber might pay could offset the benefit. Also, if $7.85 per month is too much, we would prefer those readers remain supported by solidarity subscriptions, and just hope maybe they can contribute when they’re in a better position.
Our GoFundMe is still happy to take one-time donations, though. Visit that here, and thanks for your support!
• We’re calling for advertisers who want to get in on the ground floor.
The early bird still gets the worm.
We’re excited to offer a limited-time discount for folks who want to strike while the iron is hot. So, advertisers that sign on by Friday, April 30 will get 15% off their first week of ads, plus they can lock into early bird rates for 12 weeks.
It’s a pretty sweet deal. Learn more here (or click on the bird).
Why advertise with the Times? Our traffic is growing all the time, we don’t have a mandatory paywall that will prevent the world from seeing your ads, and your dollars are staying right here in Lawrence. Your ads show our readers that you care about what we’re doing, and you want to keep local news alive and accessible. Questions? Reach out to ads (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com.
Supporting our advertisers? Let them know that you saw their ad through The Lawerence Times!
• Merch coming soon.
We would like to set up an online merchandise store so that we can start offering Lawrence Times T-shirts and more. We would also love to find a local business that could handle some orders for folks who want to go that route.
We think we can make this happen soon, but if anyone would like to contribute specifically to help us launch merchandise, that would be extremely helpful to get the ball rolling!
• Also soon: Meet the Lawrence Times community advisory board.
Check back a little later this week to find out who’s helping us make big decisions and do big things. We’ve got a rockstar team together, and I’m very excited to introduce them.
Thank you to everyone who has supported the Times in any way so far and to those who will in the future. We could not do any of what we’re doing without the support of the people of Lawrence, and we will never forget that.
If you can’t pay to subscribe, that’s fine. We’re doing this work to make sure you can keep reading. Please just tell other Lawrence folks about the Times — encourage people to visit lawrencekstimes.com, read us, share our stories, spread the word, and subscribe if they can.
Thank you, Lawrence!
— Mackenzie Clark, reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times