Why this issue of Montclair Local is free (and next week’s can’t be)
By LOUIS C. HOCHMAN
For a bunch of journalists, we can sometimes be awful at communicating.
As we’ve stepped up the Save Montclair Local campaign — looking to raise $230,000 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 to keep the news you value coming in 2022 — there’s a line we’ve heard a lot: “I think I get the Montclair Local. I’m not sure.”
Why this issue is free to everyone
That confusion is our fault. We’re so caught up in telling you what’s going on in Montclair, we don’t always do the best job of explaining what’s going on with Montclair Local Nonprofit News.
This week’s edition of Montclair Local is what’s called a “TMC” — for “total market coverage” — edition. A few times per year, we distribute an issue of the paper to all households in the township — whether or not they’re members (that’s what we in the nonprofit news business call “subscribers”). It serves a few functions: It advances our mission of keeping the community informed, it lets people know about the newspaper and it’s an attractive vehicle for our advertisers to reach more people.
Think of it like when the cable company used to unscramble HBO for a week, and put a crawl at the bottom reminding you to subscribe or lose all those great movies in a few days. Only we haven’t always been good about getting that “crawl” in front of you — about explaining what this time-limited free service is all about.
There are a few other things that confuse people. Sometimes, we keep delivering for a grace period after a subscription lapses. And then there’s the other question we get: “Aren’t you The Montclair Times?” We can’t blame people for being confused about that either. Montclair Local was started because in 2016, The Montclair Times, under new ownership, drastically cut back staff. Many of our journalists, especially in our first year, came over from The Montclair Times as well. We aim to serve the same mission that paper did for ages — to provide thorough, robust coverage of the stories that matter most in our community.
Why the next one isn’t
And here’s the thing — producing news at the level a community deserves is an intense, expensive endeavor. It takes several journalists, full-time, part-time and freelance, constantly seeking out answers on your behalf.
Some of our questions are pointed, some are simple and some are just fun: What will happen if Montclair switches from an appointed to elected school board? How do we get relief from Ida, and how do we protect ourselves next time? What concerns still exist around the return to schools in the pandemic? How are young people advancing inclusion? What’s Montclair doing to celebrate Halloween? What new resources exist for those with disabilities? How is Montclair embracing a return to in-person art?
This week and in other recent weeks, we’ve sought to answer many of those questions and more. But as our usual subscribers know already, I’m using this space each week to tell you we can’t keep that up without your help.
We’ve got great news: As of the start of this week, we’re more than $112,000 toward our goal of raising $230,000. That’s incredible. But if we don’t hit our target, the work we do is in jeopardy.
What you can do:
- Scroll to the bottom of this post or go right now to MontclairLocal.news/donations and make a tax-deductible contribution. A donation of $120 or more automatically includes a membership to Montclair Local, with one year of our print edition. (If you’re interested in getting the paper but can’t contribute at that level, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can do.)
- Tell everyone you know — you value local news, and if they do too, we need their support. Share it on social media. Email it to loved ones. We’ve seen what happens when news organizations have to cut back. Don’t let that happen here.
- Come to our Silent Disco! On Halloween night from 6 to 9 p.m., we’re partnering with the Weirdo Party for a great (family-friendly) time in Glenfield Park. Come after trick-or-treating! Costumes are optional, but we hope to see plenty. Tickets are $25 and get you a pair of headphones — and we’ll get you some candy. Payments can be sent via Cash App to $jsharif2329, via Venmo to PopupNDance or by using the form at MontclairLocal.news, under “Montclair Local Events” (where you can also get more info).
We hope you enjoy this free edition of Montclair Local — we worked hard putting it out, as we do every week. We hope you’ll be inspired to become a member, and enjoy next week’s edition as well.