‘Twas the week before December, and all through the Plateau
The last free Courier-Herald was sent to your borough;
No longer will carriers drive down your local streets
Tossing papers into driveways for the weather to mistreat;
Now a subscription you must get to receive local news
With Hornet sports and opinions and classifieds to peruse;
So your paper is dry, it’ll come, now, by mail
Always on Wednesdays, whether snow, sleet or hail;
Why buy a subscription? That’s easy, you see
Strong local papers build strong communities;
So support local journalism and keep us around
Give us a call, or come visit us downtown;
This is your paper — grab ahold of that right
And we promise to never go quietly into the night.
That’s right, ladies and gents – just in case you missed the publisher’s note at the beginning of the month, all the ads we’ve been running, and my elementary attempt at a little creative writing — the Courier-Herald is finally fully transitioning to paid-subscription delivery only.
This is a big change for us; we’ve been a free paper since, what, at least since 2007 or 2008 (I’m still trying to find the announcement our previous publisher, Bill Marcum, might have made announcing that decision). Since then, we’ve built up a hearty readership, delivering more than 10,000 copies of the Courier-Herald around the Plateau as of this year.
So why are we changing our business model, in the middle of a pandemic, no less?
Well, the pandemic is exactly why we need to shore up our base.
Back in May, you may recall I announced that the Courier-Herald was planning to keep printing, but that we were facing a week-by-week situation. We easily could, like many of our brother and sister papers, have gone 100 percent online.
But thanks to you, our advertisers, the city of Enumclaw, and some quick thinking on the company’s part, the Courier-Herald has (knock on wood) survived the pandemic to continue serving the Plateau for another century.
Of course, we’re not out of the woods yet, and who knows what tomorrow may bring?
It’s that uncertainty that has led us to make the decision to go from a free (or voluntary) subscription model to a paid one, so that if round two of COVID-19 hits, or the Pacific Northwest finally gets flattened by “the big one”, or if aliens invade Earth and glass our major cities, we can still be here, diligently reporting on how your community will be affected by our new xeno overlords.
All joking aside, there are real, quantifiable benefits not just for you, but for Enumclaw as a whole, in having access to a local newspaper.
Civic engagement is one of the ways researchers measure the effect of a local newspaper on a community. According to a 2016 Pew Research Center report, ”two particular aspects of civic engagement stand out as most closely associated with local news habits: a strong connection to one’s community and always voting in local elections. Americans with one of these two attributes, the study finds, consistently display stronger local news habits across a range of measures: news interest, news intake (the number and types of sources they turn to) and news attitudes – their views of local news organizations.”
In short, the data suggests there’s a strong relationship between local news and how engaged a group of people are with their community, though I must add that we’re not quite sure whether civic engagement comes from reading local news, or reading local news comes from civic engagement.
Either way, it’s a win-win for the community.
But the benefits of newspapers don’t stop there — a few studies show that it actually becomes more expensive for cities to borrow money (bonds) following a three-year period after a local newspaper closed.
“The authors suggest this might be ‘because potential lenders have greater difficulty evaluating the quality of public projects and the government officials in charge of these projects’ in the absence of local papers,’” our friends at Journalist Resource wrote, summarizing and quoting one 2018 study. “The study also found increased government inefficiencies, such as higher wage rates and numbers of employees per capita, in the absence of daily newspapers — additional indicators of the role local papers play in public accountability.”
More community engagement. Increases in voting. Less expensive government.
Frankly, what community doesn’t want those three things?
But when you subscribe to the Courier-Herald, you’re not just buying a paper — you’re investing in an idea.
The idea that accurate and timely information is worth your financial support.
The idea that reliable journalism is key to keeping power in check.
And the idea that, 10 or 20 or a 100 years down the line, it’s important for Plateau residents to be able to look back and see how their communities have evolved.
After all, a newspaper is the first draft of history. So when you call us about what you like and what you don’t, when you write us letters about politics and housing and thank-yous and well-wishes, when the information you read actively affects the way you go about your day, your week, your life, you become a part of that history, too.
So subscribe, and be a part of Enumclaw’s history for all time.
I’ll see you around.
HOW TO SUBSCRIBE
Subscription rates are $60 for 1 year, or $100 for 2. You can also subscribe to our website for just $4.95 for four weeks.
To subscribe online, head to www.courierherald.com/ech2020.
To subscribe over the phone, call 888-838-3000.
CORRECTION: The previous headline of this column incorrectly stated the last free edition of the Courier-Herald was Dec. 2. The last free edition was actually Nov. 25. The column headline has been updated.