If you’re reading this column, you either already are a subscriber/member to the Duluth News Tribune, Cloquet Pine Journal, or Superior Telegram, or you’re a reader who has not yet decided to pay for a membership.
To those of you that are already paying members, thank you. We appreciate your loyalty and your belief in the value of community journalism. We’re working hard every day to bring you the stories that matter most to you. We’re delivering the stories to you when you want them and how you want to read them. Our product offerings include our traditional printed newspapers as well as our websites, digital newspaper replicas, podcasts, videos, image galleries, email newsletters and social media channels. On the go, or at home, we’re there to keep you informed. If you have any questions regarding everything included in your subscription, please reach out to us so we can help you maximize the value of your subscription.
To those of you who are not yet convinced of the value of a digital subscription, or a print + digital combo subscription, I understand. I’m a discerner as well. When making a financial commitment to anything, it’s obviously important to understand the value of what you’re purchasing. The value of tangible items such as clothing, food and transportation typically are easier for people to grasp than intangible items such as information.
Never in the history of the world has information been as abundant, or as accessible, for most humans, than it is today. Economics 101 has taught us that when supply is high, the value, or price of an item, in theory should be low. Conversely, when items are scarce, their value increases and their price is higher. The presupposition is that all of the information available holds equal value because all of it shares the same characteristics.
The availability of troves of information is both a blessing and a curse. The ability to learn about topics quickly and share instantaneously with others has equipped humankind with the ability to accelerate innovation beyond boundaries previously believed impenetrable. Advances that took decades, now take years, or months, or weeks, or days, or even minutes. If it feels like the world is moving at an incredible speed — it is, and we’re all just along for the ride.
The challenge an abundance of information has created for us is we don’t have the time and capacity to consume all of it. So, the capability to discern has never been more important. There is an ever increasing need to distinguish truth from falsehood and to prioritize the intake.
That’s where we, your local community newspapers, come in. Our value lies in our ability to synthesize information from a variety of sources, truthfully relay that information, prioritize the information available and deliver it when one wants it, in the format one wants it in.
So while there is a lot of information out there and some of it is available for free, our educated, trained, professional, ethically bound staff adds significant value to it by sifting through it and creating unique, local content that is easily accessible and digestible for local members.
We take the raw product — information — and add the value. In essence, we take the iron ore and make it into steel.
How you perceive the value of what we add is the key. Do you trust us to relay information honestly? Do you agree with how we prioritize the stories of the day, of the minute? Do you enjoy the reader experience of all of our different formats?
We understand each of these areas is a moving target and a work in progress.
Recently our company applied to become a News Partner with The Trust Project, a consortium of top news companies around the world dedicated to "restoring the trusted role of the press in serving the public good." Our company's application is currently being reviewed by the project. Regardless of what happens with our application, we have created an intentional focus on building trust with our readers and infusing the core principles of journalistic integrity into all our newsrooms.
The Trust Project, founded by Sally Lehrman, a journalist and former director of the Santa Clara University’s journalism ethics program, was launched in April 2017. The project’s news partners have committed to “transparency, impartiality and accuracy.”
News partners focus on building upon the eight Trust Indicators developed and identified as key factors by The Trust Project. These indicators then help news organizations hold themselves accountable and dedicate themselves to the public interest.
Those Trust Indicators include: 1. Best practices (standards and policies); 2. Journalist expertise; 3. Type of work labels; 4. References for claims; 5. Methods of reporting; 6. Local expertise and sourcing; 7. Diverse voices and perspectives; 8. Actionable feedback (public engagement).
The eight Trust Indicators — together and individually — help show readers “who and what is behind a news story so people can assess for themselves whether it comes from a credible source,” according to The Trust Project.
Meanwhile, our editors make hundreds of decisions a day regarding what stories to cover and what stories to ultimately publish. We welcome our readers to actively share story ideas and question why, or why we didn’t, cover a story. With your help we can better understand what our members want to read and more efficiently deliver those stories.
As previously mentioned, the world is moving at breathtaking speed. Technological advancements are happening daily with our digital product offerings. Our goal is to have the best reader experience possible via desktop, mobile or tablet devices. Let us know if your experience doesn’t meet your expectations. Your feedback will help us improve the experience.
It’s our belief we add significant value to your information consuming experience. Not only that, but we believe journalism is vital for communities like ours to hold elected officials accountable, the public informed and all of us connected. We hope you agree and will support community journalism by purchasing a membership to the Duluth News Tribune, Cloquet Pine Journal or Superior Telegram.
Neal Ronquist is the publisher of the Duluth Media Group. Contact him at 218-723-5235 or at email@example.com.