Falls Church News-Press planning paywall to save print legacy amid financial struggles

Proprietor of Falls Church Information-Press Nick Benton poses in entrance of the newspaper’s workplace in Falls Church (employees picture by James Jarvis)

In a bid to protect its paper-and-ink legacy, the Falls Church Information-Press plans to introduce a number of adjustments to its enterprise mannequin — chief amongst them an internet site paywall.

“If my deference to a print newspaper merely doesn’t afford us the flexibility to proceed in that mode, we’ll attempt one thing else, a minimum of on a brief foundation,” Nick Benton, founder and editor of the greater than three-decade-old publication, informed ARLnow. “I’ll do no matter it takes to maintain the paper going.”

Benton, a California native, moved to Falls Church within the late Eighties after touchdown a job as a White Home correspondent with Government Intelligence Assessment, a weekly journal based by American political activist Lyndon LaRouche that was recognized for its contentious articles and conspiracy theories.

A number of years into his profession, Benton noticed a chance for a distinct profession path. Pushed by the noticeable lack of devoted information protection in his group, he approached the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce with a proposition: Would native companies be excited about promoting in a nascent native newspaper?

That very same yr, Benton began the Information-Press in March 1991.

“The primary evening… of the papers rolling off of that [printing] press for the primary time — it was like a 16-page paper — the bell rang, issues began chugging, and the paper began coming down the conveyor belt and I stood on a soapbox and shouted, ‘Let each tyrant tremble,’” he stated. “That’s how we bought began.”

Final month marked FCNP’s thirty-third anniversary, a milestone Benton marked by penning an editorial urging readers to strain the town authorities to revive its previous custom of buying weekly adverts.

“We should confess that we, too, are skating on skinny ice in these instances of nice hassle for native papers,” Benton wrote. “We’re relying on our readers in any respect ranges to pitch in and assist. Essentially the most environment friendly manner of doing that is by means of a dedication of a tiny fraction of Metropolis tax {dollars} going to offer a invaluable public service that additionally helps to maintain your native newspaper in enterprise.”

A month earlier, he opined in regards to the significance of the paper to the Little Metropolis’s ongoing growth.  Two months earlier, he introduced a forthcoming $10month paywall for the web site and a pilot program to ship newspapers by mail, relatively than devoted supply routes, to deal with these challenges.

Although he didn’t delve into the specifics of the monetary points, Benton emphasised they have been important.

“We have now to determine some solution to elevate income,” he informed ARLnow. “We’re working mightily low.”

Regardless of Benton’s affirmation of the newspaper’s enduring readership, he stated promoting is declining as a enterprise mannequin. Implementing a paywall isn’t Benton’s most popular choice, however he says that with out extra group assist, it’s one of many few remaining avenues he has left.

“I’ve to do it earlier than we run out of cash,” he stated. “Individuals aren’t responding to those appeals that I’ve been making about getting the town [to take out ads] — that’s the simplest solution to do it as a result of it’s popping out of their taxes, proper.”

The town has since agreed to month-to-month advert placements, Benton says. Nonetheless, the association falls in need of their monetary wants, and in the long run, Benton hopes the paywall will enable FCNP to maintain distributing a bodily paper, which he argues is effective to readers.

“I really like the previous phrase that claims, ‘You’re by no means alone when you have a poet in your pocket,’ and I’d apply that to newspapers,” he stated.  “[Newspapers] is a medium of communication. It’s nearly like a bodily net — a glue — that holds a group collectively.”

Furthermore, Benton argues {that a} bodily newspaper has an extended life span for the patron than a strictly on-line publication, thus benefiting advertisers.

“You are taking a newspaper, you possibly can fold it and stick it in your pocket. You possibly can have it in your espresso desk for an entire week. You possibly can choose up the paper three or 4 instances through the course of the weekend. That advert goes to be in there for individuals to learn and see,” Benton stated.

As a lot as he want to see the paper proceed, Benton acknowledges it will not be a viable enterprise mannequin long run and would relatively scrap it to protect the publication than let the entire thing die out.

Both manner, Benton is decided to maintain FCNP working.

“Except they drag me out of there and padlock the door, and I can’t do something, then perhaps I’ll cease,” he stated. “However I’m not there but. And hopefully, a few of these options will seize on.”

Screenshot of the entrance web page of the Falls Church Information-Press from Feb. 2024

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