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EDITORIAL: HOW YOU CAN SUPPORT DIGBOSTON

Official Dig Baby

 

A reader’s guide to building a better news weekly

 

April 19, 2018

BY JASON PRAMAS @JASONPRAMAS

 

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.

QUICK & DIRTY CAMBRIDGE CITY COUNCIL ELECTION GUIDE

collage of 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates
collage of 2017 Cambridge City Council candidates

Because in a race with 26 candidates, you’ll only remember slogans

 

November 1, 2017

BY JASON PRAMAS @JASONPRAMAS

 

Everyone outside Cambridge thinks they understand why it’s kind of a weird place. But to truly apprehend how odd the city is, you really need to vote in one of its municipal elections. Especially this one. Where else in the area do you have a ranked choice voting system where every candidate is an at-large candidate with a theoretically equal chance of winning one of the nine seats on offer, and every incumbent has to run for reelection in every election? What makes this year’s council race particularly wild is that there are three open seats. Meaning that there are six incumbents running, including the current mayor (a councilor who is elevated by a vote of her peers), and no less than 20 other candidates.

 

Having attended a recent debate with most of the candidates in attendance, I can assure you that it’s no easy task to even remember anything about individual candidates, let alone choose one to give your coveted #1 vote to (and then assign your #2 through #26 votes—although few people bother to go further than picking their top four or five choices).

 

So, as a public service to DigBoston’s Cambridge readers, I’ve put together the following list of all 26 city council candidates with one line or two to three phrases for each that I think encapsulates their campaign material, and a link to their website. Each of the six incumbents is noted with an asterisk. Hope it helps. Just try not to remember that an appointed city manager actually holds much of the power in the “People’s Republic.” (D’oh!)

 

Ronald Benjamin: wants to create community, votebenjamin2017.com

 

Josh M. Burgin: 25 ideas for Cambridge, votejoshburgin.com

 

Dennis J. Carlone*: manage new development, true to community values, denniscarlone.com

 

Olivia D’Ambrosio: arts, but not a one-trick pony, vote-o.com

 

Jan Devereux*: civic engagement, sustainable growth, jandevereux.org

 

Samuel Gebru: entrepreneur, community organizer, gebruforcambridge.com

 

Richard Harding Jr.: advocate for working families, voteharding.org

 

Craig A. Kelley*: vibrant local democratic institutions crucial to US, craigkelley.org

 

Dan Lenke: little city halls, nano city halls, potlucks, danlenke.com

 

Ilan Levy: activist since 2006, fought for the Foundry, critic of the Volpe plan, vote1ilan.net

 

Alanna M. Mallon: prioritize public service by strengthening social safety nets, alannamallon.org

 

Marc C. McGovern*: for collaboration and social/economic justice, gets results, marcmcgovern.com

 

Gregg J. Moree: concerned about lack of options open for our young people, greggmoree.com

 

Adriane B. Musgrave: fight so everyone in Cambridge has economic opportunity, voteadriane.com

 

Nadya T. Okamoto: protect the concept of home for all Cantabrigians, votenadya.com

 

Hari I. Pillai: not selling out values just for more economic growth, cambridge2017.city

 

Jeff Santos: progressive broadcaster, backs affordable housing and a living wage, santosforcitycouncil.com

 

Sumbul Siddiqui: affordable housing, economic development, civic engagement, votesumbul.com

 

Denise Simmons*: understands unique needs of residents in our community, denisesimmons.com

 

Vatsady Sivongxay: bringing diverse voices to the decision-making table, vatsady.com

 

Bryan Sutton: can analyze complex systems and make data-driven decisions, bryansutton.org

 

Sean Tierney: experienced public servant, dedicated to Cambridge, seantierney.org

 

Paul F. Toner: engaging people with a diversity of opinions to find solutions, tonerforcambridge.com

 

Timothy J. Toomey Jr.*: experience and vision to guide Cambridge’s continued growth, timtoomey.org

 

Gwen Thomas Volmar: for affordable housing, against luxury high-rises, votegwen.org

 

Quinton Y. Zondervan: environmentalist, helped create the Net Zero Action Plan, votequinton.com

 

*indicates incumbent