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  • Jim Townsend

Please Support Local News

I hate to sound like a broken record, but The Portland Beacon is not your typical news site. It cannot survive on advertising alone. Don’t get me wrong… we appreciate and need our advertisers very much, but with the size of our community, The Beacon will need a combination of local advertising and reader contributions to survive and grow.

The evolution of the news industry over the last couple decades, especially in towns the size of Portland, has caused established news publications to evolve into something that seems to rarely cover local news. Instead they seem to be increasingly using a template where they repackage content that isn’t really local, but label it with a familiar local name, and sell advertising to larger advertisers who want their message in several towns at the same time.

I priced out advertising in these publications, and to be honest, I don’t know how the average mom and pop small businesses could afford to advertise there. I couldn’t afford it.

Large media companies are buying out local small newspapers, and local news is often left out of the equation.

From a business perspective, I completely understand it. It makes sense. Sort of like mass production and the assembly line changed the way cars were made. With the evolution of news and technology, their new model is the best way to help their bottom line. Meanwhile real local news is often ignored.

In the five months The Portland Beacon has been live, I feel The Beacon has been incredibly successful in sharing local news and events with Portlanders near and far. The analytics and social media statistics are very impressive, and I think the site is on to something great in our community.

The kind words and encouragement from readers has been fantastic, and I do appreciate them. But kind words don’t pay the bills.

I have no desire to ever add a pay wall to the site where after so many articles readers get a lovely message saying something like, “You have used your free views for this month. You must subscribe for $X per months for access.” Personally, I hate those messages on other sites, and I do not want to go there, but at the same time a free press is not free. There are costs with bringing local news to readers.

I also have no intention of charging people to share news that I think should be free, like an obituary, a birth announcement, or an engagement announcement. Did you know that it costs approximately $45 to run a basic 100-word obituary with a photo in the Portland Review and Observer?

With roughly 12,000 people in our target reader market of the City of Portland and neighboring townships, if one in every ten people contributed a dollar, that would cover a large portion of the basic expenses of The Beacon for a year. Now I know that 1,200 people each giving a dollar is never going to happen, but it helps give a better picture of how the contribution/advertising mix works. Little contributions add up.

If you are interested in contributing, I thank you. You can get more information on how to do so by check or by PayPal at

If you are interested in sponsoring content on a specific topic, organization, business, or even a team, I would be happy to speak with you about options.

If you are interested volunteering your time to write about a topic that you think our community needs to know more about, I would love to speak with you. I know first-hand that it isn’t easy for the most people to write these stories, but I have seen some non-profit board members and hockey moms write some pretty awesome stories.

By no means do I want to mislead anyone into thinking The Portland Beacon is a charity because it isn’t. It is a for-profit business. Contributions are not tax deductible. But this unique business model depends on both advertisers and readers to survive. We need your support to keep this local news source going in our community.

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