Operation Independent News: Our Metered Paywall Starts Monday

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We’re calling it Operation Real News because that’s what is at stake when we activate our metered paywall at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, November 20, 2017. When activated, no one will be completely cut off from our news stories, but those who want full access to our content and our local news archives will be asked to pay $5.95 per month. For a limited time, you’ll get a free month for an annual subscription.

We need at least 1,000 subscribers to earn financial sustainability. Without subscriber’s support Covering Katy’s independent news coverage will come to an abrupt end after six years of service to our community.

For those who don’t subscribe, we will offer four free articles every 30 days. The paywall is designed to preserve the vast majority of traffic that comes from casual readers while asking our super-users to partner with us by paying a subscription.

We have a significant group of “super-users” who come to the site several times per week, but we have an even bigger casual audience that reads just three to four stories per month. Our plan will allow those users to have limited access in hopes that they too will eventually decide to support us.

One subscription will cover an entire family. You will be allowed to have several devices activated at the same time, under an individual subscription.

We’ve added a bonus. Subscribers will also receive our newest product for free. We’ll be producing a daily email with all of the latest stories, weather, and community events. It will be like getting a local newspaper delivered to your inbox by 6 a.m. every day. You will no longer have to go to our website, or social media pages to get the news. Just read the news in the morning while checking your email and enjoying your first cup of coffee.

The names of those who subscribe will be confidential. We will not publish your name online or sell your information to third-party vendors. Only my team and I will know who supports Operation Real News.

The financial pressures we’re facing in our quest for sustainability aren’t unique to Covering Katy News. It’s part of the online news publishing world for those of us who are generating large volumes of original content. In short, newsgathering is expensive and its needed now more than ever.

Look at the minimal amount of news stories provided by most local community newspapers. They’re owned by out of town corporations who don’t have a pulse on the community, so they’re not publishing stories that matter. Making things even worse, the Houston Chronicle now owns many of the local community newspapers, including the Katy Rancher, so you have just one group of gatekeepers deciding what information you get to read. That’s not good.

Covering Katy has made a difference in this community by writing about issues that other publications refuse to tackle. We’re also there when you need us most. We were the only Katy news outlet providing 24-7 news coverage during Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. And when we had a public homicide in the middle of the crisis, we were at the scene reporting details of that event live, with video. We work hard for you because we believe in your right to know the truth about what’s happening in Katy.

Most publications in Katy survive by cozying up to the establishment. If they ignore the real issues in Katy, the sponsorship dollars will follow. You can end that by supporting our model where we rely on you, not the establishment, as the financial foundation of an independent media organization.

We believe Katy is a far better place today because Covering Katy News has kept you informed. We’ve put sunlight on issues that other media outlets purposely kept in the dark. By subscribing you will guarantee that we’ll continue serving this community in the future.

I’m very confident that this subscriber model will work, but it’s up to you to decide if we succeed. If we reach our goal, we’ll continue publishing news for years to come. If we fail, we will issue prorated refunds to our annual subscribers and then shut down Covering Katy, knowing that we came very close, but ran out of steam on the 5-yard line.

I think it’s appropriate that we begin this campaign on Thanksgiving week, a time when we should be upbeat and thankful for what we have. I feel blessed to be working for you every day, gathering and publishing news for this diverse and wonderful community. I believe that next year we’ll be giving thanks that Covering Katy News has reached financial sustainability.

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