October 26, 2021

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After pandemic layoffs, a neighborhood information firm seeks subscribers on Substack.

After pandemic layoffs, a local news company seeks subscribers on Substack.

Examiner Media, a writer of free weekly newspapers in New York’s Decrease Hudson Valley, has began a digital journal, Examiner+, on the digital platform Substack.

Subscriptions to Examiner+, whose first challenge appeared on Tuesday, will value $5.99 a month or $49.99 a yr. In making a subscription publication for Substack, Examiner Media is testing whether or not an organization identified primarily for its ad-supported neighborhood newspapers — a sector of the media enterprise that has struggled vastly in current a long time — can discover success by asking readers to pay for information content material on-line.

Examiner+ will embrace articles not obtainable in Examiner Media’s papers, which embrace The Northern Westchester Examiner and The Putnam Examiner. “It might probably’t simply be a rehash of what we’re already serving up in print,” mentioned Robert Schork, the corporate’s digital editorial director.

He cited a coming function on the April closing of the Indian Level nuclear energy plant. Examiner+ additionally has a profile of the actor Chazz Palminteri, who just lately opened Chazz Palminteri Italian Restaurant in White Plains.

Adam Stone based Examiner Media in 2007, the identical yr Gannett, the big newspaper chain, shuttered The Patent Dealer, a 50-year-old paper in northern Westchester County. Final yr, after pandemic-related lockdowns froze promoting and in-person occasions, Mr. Stone reduce Examiner Media’s full-time editorial employees to 2 individuals from six. He additionally solicited funds for the primary time and receivedmore than $30,000, primarily in small donations.

“It felt like there was alternative in reader income that we weren’t tapping,” he mentioned.

Credit score…Donna Mueller

Enter Substack. The enterprise capital-backed start-up is greatest identified for persuading nationally well-liked writers to go away established publications and go into enterprise for themselves with subscription newsletters. This spring, it introduced Substack Native, a $1 million initiative to help native journalism with grants. In June, Examiner Media was chosen as one among 12 winners, a gaggle that included native information publishers in Australia, Britain, Nigeria, Romania and Taiwan.

“We wouldn’t contemplate ourselves successful if we simply took well-known individuals and made them well-known in a brand new context,” mentioned Hamish McKenzie, a Substack co-founder.

One other domestically oriented information publication, The Charlotte Ledger, based two years in the past by the previous Charlotte Observer reporter Tony Mecia, has discovered success on Substack, with 10,000 subscribers, round 2,200 of whom are paying, he mentioned.

“You hear lots of doom and gloom on native information,” Mr. Mecia mentioned, “however that’s primarily newspapers. There are individuals making an attempt lots of thrilling issues, and a few of it is vitally encouraging.”

Examiner Media will obtain $75,000 from Substack in 4 installments, in addition to 15 p.c of the first-year income for Examiner+, Mr. Stone mentioned. The cash helped Mr. Stone construct the employees again to 5 full-time editorial workers. After a yr, the corporate’s share of subscription income will go to 90 p.c, the Substack commonplace.

“If we are able to crack the code,” he mentioned, “we are able to announce the blueprint to the broader world. All neighborhood newspapers might observe this mannequin.”

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