Blog: Local journalists deserve recognition for their work (03/09/22)

Many of us are preparing to spend the Labor Day holiday with friends and family. Maybe you’re grilling, hitting the lake, or enjoying one of the many fall festivals that are about to kick off.

The weekend weather certainly had us all thinking about cooler temperatures and the possibility of enjoying a variety of less fun activities during the hot sticky days of July and August.

Part of your plans for the weekend might include hitting the grocery store for something at the deli or the bakery for snacks.

When you went to the retailer and picked out the products they carry, I wonder how many people would cheekily turn around and walk out without paying. What if they did and were arrested, then accuse the retailer of being greedy for demanding payment for their work?

One of the most frustrating parts of our job can be when people capture our photos and articles to give away, accuse us of being greedy for using a paywall system to share our content, or when another medium has grossly plagiarized our work by copying and pasting all or part of a story from our website onto their website and presenting it as original content.

That being said, we provide free access to items, including those related to public safety, requests for law enforcement assistance, emergency weather announcements, election advances, and certain other content.

The honest truth is that we would all love to make all of our content free. But newspapers tried this business model when they started putting their content online and it didn’t work. This was before my time and it’s not a debate I’m trying to start here.

Finding the balance between advertising and subscription revenue from our print products and our digital products is something that everyone still struggles with.

But at the end of the day, we need both advertiser and subscriber revenue to pay our employees’ salaries. They are parents with children in school, grandparents who help house and raise adult children and grandchildren, and daughters who support their parents, among others, just like employees of any other small business in our community.

We know we’re far from perfect, just like other businesses in our community, but our people work hard and they, like everyone else, deserve to be paid for their work.

We see the value of their work every day, both in the majority of readers and subscribers who buy our print products or click through to our digital products, and even in those who get upset because their free access is limited.

So the next time you click on an article about an arrest, a feature article that sounds interesting, or a meeting notice that interests you, if you get a pop-up that says full access to the Daily American Republic website only costs $7.50. per month, remember someone with a family and electric bills to pay made this content possible.

Thank you to everyone who reads and supports the small newspapers in our region.

Donna Farley is the editor of the Daily American Republic. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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PS… Well, I thought I was done with this column of about 500 words, but then I read some other Facebook responses to an article and got fired up again. This will likely trigger another round of comments, probably what we’ve heard before, of the “you don’t deserve to be paid for what you do” type of comments, and more vitriol.

It saddens me to see how my staff are beaten day after day for doing work that helps protect our freedoms, shines a light on issues that need to be fixed, and shines a light on our community’s triumphs.

I know I missed my brother’s wedding rehearsal to attend a city council meeting at the Second Street complex on the site of a future city hall. This was at a time when it looked like the decision could easily have been made to leave the city center, something the public strongly opposed. I felt it was important for the DAR to be there and provide an account of what was going on. I missed a good chunk of Mother’s Day with my family to sit in my car in the parking lot and talk to a source who ultimately helped prove a former city manager was corrupt. I’ve spent countless weekends working on projects, like sifting through boxes of government documents to find information we could document regarding the mismanagement of an emergency management director who was eventually fired.

I know these stories best because they are mine, but I also know that all my colleagues can share the same. Like the writer who came over the weekend to spend hours chatting with a grieving family for an article about their loved one, the calls for fires, tornadoes and train derailments, and the many trips crisscrossing our region to follow the high school sports teams.

We are far from perfect. I know that. But no one here is in it for the money, greedy or putting money on lives.

The people I have worked with at the Daily American Republic are some of the hardest working, most generous, and most dedicated people I can imagine meeting. I’m proud every day of the work they do, and there are times – like most of us have at some point reading the sludge spread on social media – when I wish I could share these stories with each individual who spends his days trying to destroy the work of others.

Fortunately, I work in a newspaper and I have other outlets.

Thank you, friends, for allowing me to share this with you.

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