The Racine County Eye news website has earned the trust of over 457,000 readers and generated over 1.4 million page views in 2020. This represents a 56 percent increase over the same period in 2019. I have always wanted people to connect through story. But this is also bittersweet. COVID-19 giveth and COVID-19 taketh away.
Our revenue — tied mostly to restaurants, retail, and events — is down about 60 percent. And if we don’t get more support in the form of reader subscriptions soon, RCE could be in jeopardy.
Our news website remains free. With over 20 percent of people in the City of Racine living in poverty, I would prefer to keep it that way. Still, we have a subscription program, and we’re counting more than ever on our readership to help us thrive as a news organization. So if you are in a position to help, please consider doing so.
If you have already subscribed, thank you! But there’s still more work to be done, and we would love it if you shared this page with others that care about local news.
The revenue problem defined
The Racine County Eye isn’t alone in the demand for local news but under-supported by the community it serves.
According to Rebuild Local News, the problem around media revenue models has existed for years. But in an op-ed piece about the newspaper industry, the nonprofit organization says the pandemic has become a flashpoint for the industry.
According to the op-ed:
“Even before COVID-19, the number of reporters had declined 60 percent since 2000. Some 1,800 communities have no local news source at all. Since COVID-19, the situation has gotten much, much worse. Scores of publications have already shut down; hundreds more are on the edge. Some 36,000 journalists have been laid off, furloughed, or had their pay cut since the pandemic began.”
This has a profound impact on how COVID-19 is covered, the spread of misinformation, and how elections are covered. By writing stories around health and wellness, testing sites, current local data, policymaking, and diversity issues — local journalism shines a much-needed light on issues. But the entire industry needs the support of the communities we serve.
The growth of misinformation has impacted the community in profound ways. But local news is positioned to shed light on that.
“Misinformation is spreading rapidly. About half of Americans report that they’ve seen made-up news about COVID-19, according to a PEW Research Center study.”
“Americans trust local news — and need it now more than ever.”
Officials with the Rebuilding Local News organization are calling on businesses and communities to provide support for legislation that will make it easier for people to support local journalism through subscriptions and advertising.
“Fortunately, there is an excellent, bipartisan piece of legislation that would help local news organizations survive, the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (H.R. 7640), introduced by Representatives Anne Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA).
According to Rebuilding Local News:
“Through tax credits, the bill provides small businesses with funds to advertise with local media, which would help save newsrooms and help small businesses get back on their feet. Another provision of the bill provides Americans with money to subscribe to newspapers or give donations to local nonprofit news organizations. The third provision provides tax incentives to hire or retain local journalists.
“Saving local news can’t wait. We strongly urge you to support the inclusion of the Local Journalism Sustainability Act (H.R. 7640), or similar policies to support newsrooms, in the next COVID-19 funding relief bill or other funding measures this year.”
Racine County Eye is a member of Local Independent Online News, a member of the Rebuilding Local News consortium.
From Racine County Eye subscribers
It is very hard to have an accurate understanding of an area you don’t live in.
Racine is pretty extreme in the areas that make it unique. I couldn’t imagine trying to get information from someone who does not live here or who is not personally invested in this area.
In this day and age when most news businesses, as well as other businesses, are part of national corporations, it is difficult to find local news outlets that care about local news and local issues. Local journalism and local news outlet take care of this need superbly compared to the McNews outlets.
I believe it is our civic duty to financially support responsible news organizations so they have the resources to investigate and report stories that are vital to having an informed public. I support RCE because it plays an important role in assuring that we have local independent journalists paying attention to what is happening in our community.
I support local journalism first because it actually can be community-oriented, I can get versions of national and world news anywhere. I want to know about my community and that’s harder to get these days. Secondly, I support local businesses of which you clearly are.
“I like my news to be objective and unbiased. I like knowing the facts and I can decide what I think about the facts without the media telling me how I should feel. I believe Racine Eye gives you the facts without an agenda.”