The Saltwire layoffs are depressing for a lot of reasons — and foremost for the personal loss of income and career for 109 people. I don't know what else to say about that besides I'm extremely sorry for them, and best of luck rebounding. But I want to talk about the news biz 1/
I've long thought the future of news is digital. That's why I started the Examiner, after all. But I also knew that even digital news can't rely on advertising as its main revenue source. 2/
That's true even with the most successful digital operations, like the NYT and WaPo (yes, they still print on dead trees, but their operations are mostly digital now). 3/
It's most certainly true for pretty much every other news outlet, especially local news, which can't attract even the small bit of national advertising dollars that's still out there. 4/
So, even though I've long felt the future is in digital news, I knew that the revenue source would have to be subscriptions, and I knew that would be an uphill battle. 5/
People have been used to "free" news for a long time (nothing is actually free...), and it will take a lot of work and time to change that expectation. It's a mindshift to think that you should spend the equivalent of a latte every other week to support local journalism. 6/
I'm happy to report that that has happened to some degree with the Examiner. We have more subscriptions than ever right now. People have responded to our COVID and mass murder coverage by subscribing. I appreciate it! 7/
Those new subscriptions have allowed us to continue to fund a large team of freelancers, and to bring Zane and Yvette on as reporters. 8/
I'd very much like to expand a bit more by being able to hire some of the laid-off Saltwire reporters. It'd be great to have someone working on the south shore or the valley, for example. I have ideas about how to expand coverage in Halifax, too. 9/
But we're just not there. I'm not interested in hiring someone only to lay them off in a couple of months because we can't afford them. So, for the moment, I'll just say we have freelance opportunities. But even those are limited. 10/
So, while I'm happy with what the Examiner has done lately, I'd like to make a small point. Anyone can do the back-of-the-envelope calculation... but, if say, 2% of people in NS subscribed to the Examiner, we'd have the largest working reporting staff east of Montreal. 11/
That's how tiny the numbers are. Nearly all the subscription revenue goes right into reporting. We have 1 admin person, and there are some costs for things like hosting the website, but mostly, the money goes to pay reporters 12/
For the past few months, I've been living on my CBC pay, but that's going to disappear soon, so the Examiner will start paying me, but I promise, that won't be much. I live cheaply. 13/
Otherwise, there's no executive managers or sales managers or vice-presidents in charge of micromanagements, or people whose job it is to kiss the CEO's ass. We're about a streamlined as corporate organizations go. 14/
All of which is obviously a small plea: please subscribe. 15/
Thanks for hearing me out.
You can follow @Tim_Bousquet.
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