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EDITORIAL: HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT DIGBOSTON

Official Dig Baby

 

A reader’s guide to building a better news weekly

 

What does it mean to support a news outlet? Clearly the answer to that question varies widely depending on whether the outlet is big or small, nonprofit or for profit, subscription- or advertising-based.

 

But in an era when news organizations of all sizes are having a great deal of difficulty keeping their doors open, it’s an important one to consider.

 

For DigBoston, the answer to that question must be based on how we organize our operation. As we’ve said in past editorials, our organization is very porous to the world around us. We don’t cut ourselves off from the communities we serve. Quite the reverse. We’re always working to connect more strongly to those communities. To serve them better.

 

In fact, we are part of many Boston-area communities. You can view our staff, freelance talent, interns, contractors, and advertisers as a network of personal networks—all of which pay close attention to the news we produce together. Everyone in this primary network then connects to the broad spectrum of local communities that make up our overall audience.

 

The better a job we do as journalists, the more that audience becomes part of our primary network—becomes, in short, directly connected to us.

 

The more that happens, the better our news is. Because people who know us personally, naturally come to trust us. We then hear about community developments faster and faster, and the information we communicate gets concomitantly more accurate and more relevant.

 

So to support DigBoston, the most important thing that you can do as an audience member is to reach out to us the way we’re reaching out to you. To become part of our primary network.

 

And here are eight ways you can do that.

 

Read the paper

This seems like the most obvious suggestion, but it is not. Because reading us doesn’t mean reading us every now and then. It means actively looking for us every week. Making it a habit to check out every issue we produce… and making Dig a part of your life, and therefore more strongly part of the culture that makes our city unique. Which is easy enough to do—especially for people living in and around Boston. We typically start putting new articles online on digboston.com every Tuesday, and our print edition hits the stands in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and busy parts of Brookline on Thursdays.

 

Show it to your friends

Don’t keep us to yourself. Pass around our articles on email and social media. And, more importantly, keep a paper copy on hand and physically pass it around to friends and family. Remember that stuff about networks above? By reading us often and sharing our work with your personal network, you’re helping build a fan base that interacts more strongly with us over the long term. Which is a recipe for ensuring DigBoston continues to produce good journalism for many years to come.

 

Use our information

We like it when we make people think about issues of the day. That’s definitely part of why we do what we do. But we love it when people act on the news we put out. If we write about a concert or play or art show, go check it out. If we introduce you to a political activist campaign that you agree with, plug in. Get involved. There’s little point in outlets like DigBoston producing news if no one acts on the stories we report.

 

Talk to us

We say this regularly, but we’ll say it again: You like one of our articles? Don’t like one? A fan of one of our writers, photographers, or artists? Drop us a line. Say hi. It might take us a day or three to get back to you, but we do our best to talk to readers that want to talk to us. For most purposes, emailing us at editorial@digboston.com is the best way to connect.

 

Frequent our advertisers

Another seemingly obvious thing, but we make the money that enables us to put out our newsweekly through advertising. And what’s the best way to keep the ad money flowing? Giving your business to institutions that advertise with us. And making it known that you heard about them from DigBoston. Know a similar enterprise? Spread the word that we’re a great place to advertise and that we’re helping a number of industries grow locally. Consider yourself part of our sales force. Like seriously, because we’re actually hiring a salesperson. Interested in selling for us? Send us a resume and cover letter by email to jobs@digboston.com.

 

Advertise with us

Are you a decision maker who’s looking to drum up business in Boston? Then how about buying an ad? You can start with a four- to six-week run, see how your campaign does, and if you’re happy then make it a long-term contract. Drop us an email to sales@digboston.com to get started. Mention that you read this editorial, and we’ll give you a nice discount. Because of course we will.

 

Donate

Donate?! Yeah, we know it’s kind of counterintuitive. A for-profit company asking for donations through crowdfunding or at least simple, unobtrusive pop-ups on the new website we’re building this year. But even large news outlets like the Guardian are doing it. Because news production is expensive and profit margins for newspapers like DigBoston are razor-thin. We put out a fine product every week with a handful of (shall we say) modestly paid regular staffers and dozens of “stringers” (freelancers). No one is making big bucks. We’re all doing it because we believe in the importance of good community journalism to the democratic society we’re trying to help save. If you’d like to see us expanding our news operation and bringing you more and more news you can’t find anywhere else, definitely toss us a few bucks when we ask for it. Because donations help us pay for the kind of longer-form hard news that a weekly paper like ours couldn’t afford to produce regularly without some extra cash.

 

Give us credit

This one applies to a very specific subset of our audience. We understand our role in the metro news ecology includes acting as an early warning system for larger outlets like the Boston Globe. But that doesn’t mean we think it’s cool when our colleagues at the “bigs” get “inspired” by our work and basically replicate it without granting us the simple courtesy of listing us as a source. We may kick such outlets around from time to time on political and journalistic grounds, but we still mention them as sources all the time. Some reciprocity would be nice. For real.

 

So that’s our list. What’s the takeaway? It’s not “data” or “algorithms” or certainly not robots that are going to keep journalism relevant in 21st-century America.

 

It’s people. Working together to make sure that DigBoston, and other news outlets like us all over the nation, can keep doing what we’re doing… in the public interest.

 

And it all starts with each of you, taking the time to read our work. Every week.

 

Thank you.

 

Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.

EDITORIAL: FEEDBACK REQUESTED

 

DigBoston asks readers to chime in about our coverage, digital presence, and events

 

February 28, 2018

BY JASON PRAMAS @JASONPRAMAS

 

Frequent readers know that my colleagues and I on the new DigBoston staff like to hear from people from all the varied communities that make up our audience, talk with them, and hang out with them. So, it should come as no surprise that we’re very open to suggestions about what we do as a news organization and how we do it.

 

Nevertheless, we believe it’s important that we periodically extend a formal invitation to our audience—our extended community—to give us such feedback. To demonstrate that we’re not only amenable to two-way communication as journalists, but that we actively encourage it. And that, as we’ve said in the past, we think it’s impossible to be good journalists without it.

 

After running this paper for eight months, we can use specific input in three areas: our coverage, our digital presence, and our public events. We’d really appreciate it if respondents put some serious thought into their suggestions, and fill out the fast response form at the bottom of this page.

 

Coverage

The heart of any news publication is obviously its content. DigBoston has a number of regular sections, including News, Music, Theater, Film, Visual Arts, Comedy, and Comics. In addition, we run Chris Faraone’s “Dear Reader” editorial weekly, a number of columns, opinion pieces when we have them, and my occasional editorials (like this one). Increasingly we also have big special features that dive deep into important issues of the day. And nice photos and artwork scattered throughout our publication and featured on the front page of our print edition.

 

In terms of feedback on our coverage, we’d like to hear: a) what people like and want to see more of, b) what people don’t like and want to see less of, and c) what areas readers think we don’t cover but should.

 

General responses are appreciated, but specific responses are always more useful to us.

 

Digital

In this era, it’s expected that a print newspaper like DigBoston will have a robust online presence. We do our best with limited resources, but we know that we still have a ways to go before we’re up to speed on this front.

 

The core of a good digital news operation remains a website. But now that more and more people are getting their news from phones, tablets, and traditional computers alike, websites have to be upgraded to display properly on a variety of screen sizes.

 

At least once a week these days, one or more readers will hit us up to complain about our digboston.com website not being mobile-friendly. And we definitely hear them loud and clear. So this spring we’re building a new website that will look good on any device.

 

Still, since we’re just about to start work on that site, it’s a great time for folks to let us know what kind of other features they’d find useful on it.

 

We’d also like advice on a couple of innovations we’re planning to introduce on digboston.com. Namely, we’re thinking about eliminating ads from the site entirely, and about doing a pop-up on every web article that will take up the bottom third of the reader’s screen (like theguardian.com) and invite them to become sustainers (in exchange for invites to special events, etc.) to help make sure that we’re able to keep providing you all with the kind of hard-hitting news coverage and fun arts and entertainment articles that you can’t find anywhere else in our region. Any advice on those moves would be super helpful.

 

Also, you can find every Dig article on no less than six social media platforms. We post to them pretty much every day. Here they are:

 

 

You can also subscribe to DigBoston content for free on the following news aggregators: Apple News, Google Play Newsstand, and soon Flipboard.

 

We even make the pdf of our print edition available on issuu.com/digboston. And help manage the recently-reactivated /r/bostonjournalism subreddit at reddit.com/r/bostonjournalism/.

 

While that seems like a broad digital presence, there are new social media platforms and news aggregators starting up all the time. So we’d like to know if there are any we should be on, but aren’t. And are we using the platforms and aggregators in question in the best way? If digital mavens have any tips and tricks to share with us, please do.

 

Events

We organize public events all the time, and participate in the events of other organizations as well. We do talks, workshops, courses, concerts, conferences, fairs, and festivals. We now also do a discrete amount of direct political activism by working for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

 

Are you with an organization—particularly a group rooted in one of the many Boston-area communities we cover on a regular basis? Do you like what we do at DigBoston? Are you running an event you’d like us to participate in? Or would you like to propose organizing an event with us? Then drop us a line.

 

And readers in general, are there events we’ve done that you have some input on? Are there events you’d like to see us do? Let us know.

 

Anything else I didn’t mention about DigBoston that you’d like to comment on? Then, again, please fill out the fast response form at the bottom of this page.

 

Look forward to hearing from you all.


 

Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston.