Why The Prospect Now Charges
An alert reader recently asked Jerusha a number of very interesting questions; one was "why does the Prospect now charge"? It’s a good question, one advertisers ask all the time. The Prospect frequently asks people to honestly answer questions; we think we should honestly answer this one. There are several reasons:
- We like money. We have corporeal bodies and do not actually live on the internet with our little doggies as some people think. I personally enjoy farting, which requires beans, broccoli, eggs and asparagus in carefully crafted proportions. We think we provide a service to the nation, but the government disagrees and taxes us for things we don’t want and didn’t ask for.
- It takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money to be a newspaper guy or gal. There are extremely boring meetings to attend, meetings where nothing happens most of the time, and when something does happen it does so amidst a swirl of bureaucratese which means it’s like poking through the outhouse for the quarter you know your little brother swallowed (no offense to our hard working public servants). We also have to sweep through the drek on the internet, gleaning through the fluff and gas of other media in an effort to find the few things that are actually worth our time. This is all very unpleasant work. A proctologist, or, conversely, a dentist, would be very well rewarded for providing a somewhat similar service. It also takes a lot of time we could be doing something more fun.
- If we don’t charge, no one will take us seriously. This is capitalist America, there is a built in assumption that something for nothing is worth its cost. If we don’t charge, our word is meaningless; if we do, it’s worth a little something. Besides, thanks to you, our numbers are looking pretty good, we have a readership that challenges the other local rags, and that is worth something. If you compare "eye time," meaning the number of minutes readers spend per week reading our site compared to the number of minutes people spend on competing local media, our ad space is quite a bargain.
- We mostly don’t charge. We don’t charge for things other local media do charge for, including ads for cool local events, and job notices even for the county, unless the job is awash in federal dollars, then we want some of our tax dollars back. When we do charge, it’s very reasonable, particularly as compared to other local media.
- We have to charge, or the other two local newspapers, the Booster and the Messenger, will continue to roll in dough completely unchecked. The Messenger has a lock on official notices and the peeping tom report for Downieville, and the Booster has a death grip on the county’s metropolitan area. Only a tiny bit of competition from the Prospect keep these two hoary media giants from cooperating out of habit to prevent the 21st Century from happening in Sierra County until 2040.
Truth be told, we hate charging for ads. Having advertisers means having a dozen little bosses. It means self-censoring and using words like "human mammary gland" instead of "velvety melon". It means having to couch issues like cannabis in comfortable wrapping by saying "doctors say you can" and "the state is going to get tax money" instead of saying "in a free country, people don’t have to ask the government for permission to live their lives, you idiots suck."
We like our readers to be our boss, a thousand bosses. You pay us by reading, and sometimes give us a bonus by responding with an LTE. Unfortunately, we don’t like websites that run side ads like Google because they load your computer with cookies. The uninitiated often don’t see a problem with that, but wise users avoid a buildup of cookies. The amount we would make pushing belly fat removers and cures for erectile dysfunction isn’t worth the ugliness those ads would bring to our currently raucous site.
It has been suggested that the Prospect become a non-profit and ask for memberships as public television does. But, the Prospect isn’t really public, even though we encourage public participation, and frankly, we don’t want to have to run "Fresh Air".
There are a lot of small businesses in the area where the owners put in 60 hours a week and make less than suppliers and employees. The Prospect is proud to be in that number.
When you see us driving a "SCP" news van with GPS and satellite hookup, you should wonder if we’re charging too much. If you continue to see the sagging van with the peeling paint parked outside a Board of Supervisor’s meeting, you’ll know we’re still just getting by.