The Albany Journal needs your help

This post was written by Tom Knighton, a friend and owner of The Albany Journal.

In October of last year, I became the owner of a newspaper. A blogger bought a paper. It was a momentous event for mankind…or at least “bloggerkind.” Eight months later, things are rough. I won’t lie.

As a small business, we are clearly caught up in the economic mess that surrounds Albany, which boasts a whopping 9.5 percent unemployment rate. Businesses want to advertise, but simply don’t have the money to spend. In short, we’re struggling. However, there’s hope. Chase is offering a $250,000 grant for small businesses, but we need votes to qualify. So why should you care?

There’s not a single reason. However, keep in mind that I’m not asking the federal government for money. I’m taking part in what is essentially a competition in hopes that I can get the money it will take to save my business.

There isn’t really a reason I should expect you to care. But I am asking you to care. I’m just a guy, not that different from you all. I have hopes and dreams, and one of my dreams was to own a newspaper. It’s the one newspaper that I can make sure is dedicated to fighting the good fight. It’s the one newspaper that I can look at and know that it won’t be bought.

It’s my hope that folks here at Peach Pundit will rally behind me, at least to some extent. I’d like your help in keeping my business up and going. I don’t want your money, just a few moments of your time to go and click here. Login with Facebook and search for The Albany Journal, and place your vote. Your vote could help keep honest journalism in Albany.

17 comments

  1. Charlie says:

    I voted for Tom as well. Note if you’re searching on the Facebook app you have to put “The” in front of Albany Journal.

    I’ll also put in a plug for newspapers in general. Whether they’re the AJC, The Dublin Courier Herald (plug!), or the Albany Journal, they fill a need. I like to think that we do here as well, and that the relationship is symbiotic, not competitive.

    While “print” media may eventually become digital, there is a difference between those with direct ties to the community and covering “news”, versus those of us who take a topic that may be a foot wide and drill a mile deep.

    Good luck to Tom. Hope he gets it.

  2. greencracker says:

    In the future, investigative/in-depth journalism will be at nonprofit outfits like Frontline. Believe you me, there’s no money in spending weeks on research that will yield one story.

    Anybody know of any big papers/websites that have gone non-profit? Or more importantly (to me!), have any raised a Harvard-size endowment??

    501(c)(3) would also be cool b/c donors have to be disclosed. That way, when people say newspaper coverage is run by the people who pay the bills, anyone can see the list of people who pay the bills and evaluate bias accordingly.

    • Tom says:

      Unfortunately, nonprofits that will do investigative journalism on a small scale basis just don’t seem to exist. Albany is a hive of scum and villainy, yet no one seems to look into it. That’s where we come in. Is it a lot of effort? Sure, but there’s not anyone else. You can’t hope for a nonprofit to expose corruption in some places, especially when so many of them get “grants” from the governmental bodies they would be most likely to investigate.

      That’s where the community newspaper comes into play. A good investigative story can actually give you material for several stories. These means that a newspaper can spread those costs over multiple runs. In addition, once you get a story rolling, often more material just drops into your lap. It’s happened to me more than once actually.

      As for newspapers going 501(c)(3), it’s an interesting idea, but I seriously doubt it’s going to be a strong trend…especially in smaller markets.

      • Ed says:

        The Tampa/St. Pete paper (IIRC) is a 501(c)(3). A buddy of mine says its been awesome since it switched.

  3. ryanhawk says:

    What is the longer term plan to stabilize the business Tom? I wish you all the best, and will vote for you. But I’m genuinely interested in the future of the local newspaper business and would like to hear from you on the specific challenges you face in your market and how you think you can overcome them.

    • Tom says:

      Ryan,

      My roots are in the digital world. Part of the plan is to become a daily news source via the web covering politics, crime, some features, and things of that sort while the print paper serving it niche as a weekly source for in depth profiles, investigative reporting, etc.

      When I took over the operations of the paper, there was really no effort to monetize the website. We are starting to push web advertisement and looking at other possible features that will create a strong support that will take the paper through the current era and into the era where print is a curiosity and digital is where everyone goes for their news.

  4. Scott65 says:

    I’m going to make a suggestion. I read another blog called Techdirt that covers the struggles of old print media vs new media and has some really good an innovative ideas on monetizing for newspapers in the digital era. If you do a search of the site you might find something of use. Hell, contact the owner of the blog and tell him whats up and he might even be interested in helping you experiment with some of those ideas…its worth a shot (they as a general rule have been WILDLY successful) . I went to the online version of your paper and clicked “headlines” expecting to find out whats going on in Albany…there were no headlines when I clicked on it. I wish you the best…you’re in a tough business right now thats evolving in lots of new ways

    • Tom says:

      I appreciate the suggestion. I’m going to have to check that out.

      As for headlines, that’s an artifact that is going to be addressed shortly.

      Once upon a time, anything you found in the paper was on the website. Unfortunately, that meant a LOT of people weren’t buying the print version of the paper which draws most of our expenses. So, we made a decision to take the front page stories and hold them as print exclusives. The plan is to have breaking news on a daily basis, but I really need some help at this paper. I just can’t be everywhere like I need to be.

  5. Tom says:

    Thanks everyone. It’s greatly appreciated. If you would, please share this via your friends on Facebook and Twitter. It sure can’t hurt.

  6. Three Jack says:

    I along with a few others attempted to start a local paper about 5 years ago with limited resources. We survived (and I use that word literally) for 8 months until the initial funding ran out and no other sources became available. A damn tough business but definitely needed to make sure local officials are scrutinized by objective journalists.

    Best wishes Tom!

  7. saltycracker says:

    Voted…..but looking at the odds for being one of 12 winners across the U.S. it looks like a clever $3m Chase promo. Is it worth the time you will put in for these odds ?

    Better to spend the effort pumping up readership and advertisers with your own efforts –
    lots of local interest stories around Albany…..

    good luck

  8. Ken says:

    Tom Knighton is the kind of man we need pursuing the truth. He’s doing a great job of it in an area that is poverty-stricken in terms of conservative-libertarianism media as well as money.

    You might also want to subscribe. The rates are more than reasonable. Think of it as a thumb in the eye of the daily newspapers everywhere that just don’t get it.

    Personally, I believe that if Tom can hold on until we get a different President or until the full effects of Obamacare are ended that he’ll be fine, but that’s a serious stretch without friends and supporters who act.

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